FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about LeavingTheNetwork.org
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CONTENT OF THIS SITE
Why is Steve Morgan's name invoked often on these pages? Do you have a personal grudge against Steve?
Steve's intentional decision to not name his network of churches means there is simply no good way to characterize them as a whole in a meaningful way without invoking his name. We could mention other church networks, like Acts 29 or Hillsong for instance, without mentioning their founders because these networks have over-arching proper names. It's likely this decision was made intentionally to create confusion and obfuscate the fact that these "independent" churches are actually part of a highly orchestrated, carefully planned church planting network. Until a better name is invented, Steve Morgan's Network of Churches remains the best way to describe this group of churches.
To state unequivocally, Steve Morgan is the leader of this church planting network every bit as much as he is the lead pastor of Joshua Church in Austin, Texas. However, he is not solely to blame for the abuses of leadership within Network churches. All the leaders he has promoted, notably the members of the Network Leadership Team (Sándor Paull at Christland Church, Tony Ranvestel at Vida Springs Church, Aaron Kuhnert at Brookfield Church, Justin Major at Foundation Church, and Luke Williams at Vista Church) willfully participate and enforce the system Steve has created.
Does this site slander The Network?
'Slander,' 'libel,' and 'defamation' are related legal terms which include the deliberate telling of lies to create a false impression for the purpose of hurting the reputation of a victim. This site does not deliberately misrepresent the leaders within The Network nor are its leaders victims of this site. Nothing presented is malicious or deliberately untruthful. If we are in error as to the circumstances of facts we invite anyone who has knowledge to contact us (our email address is at the bottom of this page).
Leaving The Network does not exist to spread lies or misinformation. Leaving The Network exists to platform the stories of those who have left Steve Morgan's Network of Churches and to create a public record of the inner workings and history of The Network.
The truth is public domain. Platforming the stories of the abused and creating a resource for them is not gossip, it is not defamation, and it is not slander.
Will you publish all the stories submitted to your site?
We read and respond to all who are brave enough to share their stories, but not all stories will make it to our site. We will try to publish the stories which are most indicative of the patterns of behavior which have caused trauma to people in these churches. We will be transparent and communicate at every step what we are considering to publish right away, what we may consider for a later installment, and what isn't a fit for the kinds of stories we surface on this site.
How do I know everything on this site is true?
We have vetted everything chronicled on these pages to the best of our ability, and ensured whenever possible that everything can be verified by multiple witnesses. All content abides by our policies listed on our disclaimer.
QUESTIONS ABOUT NEXT STEPS
What should I do after reading the content of this site?
To the many women and men who have left The Network, we hope you find encouragement and strength within the pages of this site. And to the many more still within The Network who can't shake the feeling that something feels off, this site exists to help you find the words to describe what you have been experiencing.
Every person's journey is different, and what you do next depends on the level of abuse you suffered. Many decide to explore the many books, podcasts, and websites we list on our resources page. If you have experienced spiritual abuse — whether from a person at one of the churches within The Network or from any other relationship in your life — our resources page also links to an easy to use, comprehensive tool for finding a licensed therapist in your local area.
My family member/friend is in The Network and I’m worried—what do I do about that?
We have heard from parents, siblings, and friends of young people involved with The Network who are worried about their loved ones. Those who have reached out to us have described how increased involvement in a Network church have coincided with rapid changes in their loved ones' lives, such as: drastic personality changes, sudden loss of interest of long-time hobbies and activities, a sharp increase in attendance and involvement of Network programming, abrupt priority shifts to stay at a Network church rather than continuing after college into a chosen career, and the increased control Network leaders exert over large and small decisions in their lives. In some cases young men have been flown to Austin to meet with Steve Morgan directly at his home. Parent, siblings, and friends describe feeling helpless as they watch their loved ones get drawn deeper and deeper into the group.
Many of us who contributed to this site were part of The Network for many years, and it took us a long time to admit how much it was harming us. The culture of The Network creates insular feelings which are resistant to criticism from the outside. Individuals within it are systematically isolated and are convinced that leaving would be unrecoverable. Trying to help someone leave The Network puts you up against a system which is doing everything it can to convince them that you are wrong. Speaking out against leaders within The Network will likely be viewed as spiritual attack.
Be a patient resource to your friend, and give them help in approaching the subject objectively if they ask. Above all respect their autonomy in making their own decisions. For more ideas read the wikiHow article on suggestions for how to help deprogram a friend who is involved with a high-control group (this wikiHow article was co-authored by a clinical psychologist).
Note: The WikiHow article as written uses the word "cult." Some prefer to use terms like "high-control group", "toxic or unhealthy church," or "religious sect." Linking to this article does not imply that all who worked on the site believe The Network is a cult. We cover this on the Network Churches page under "Are These Churches Cults?"
QUESTIONS ABOUT US
Who made this site and why did you make it?
Most of the contributors to this site have wished to remain anonymous until they publish their own stories on this site. We are former pastors, staff, board members, and attenders of churches within The Network. We have all had extensive involvement within these churches and spent significant time and energy contributing to their growth.
We watched, and participated, as The Network became steadily more controlling, secretive, and paranoid. The fruit which has grown out of the culture of these churches has had a heartbreaking effect on people, and we all felt it was time for a resource to be made available which countered the repeated narrative within these churches that this toxic culture is virtuous, godly, or necessary.
We are sharing these stories here because transparency matters, and knowing others' stories (and sharing your own) can begin the process of healing for many.
Can I contact you?
Sure. If you have a story you would like to share, there is a form on our homepage for you to fill out. We list several prompts to get you started.
Other inquiries can be directed toward [email protected]. We give first precedence of our attention to those who wish to share their stories, want more information about getting out of The Network, or have left The Network and have questions.