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Sep 09, 2010

Interview with Heidi Venie

sDarin and Robert talk to Darin’s friend Heidi Venie from Alaska. Heidi’s an ex-worship leader who left the institutional world almost one year ago. She discusses her path in the wild and how God is healing her from spiritual abuse. Heidi represents thousands of ex-worship leaders who decided to live in the wild rather than succumb to a system that promotes performance over authentic worship. Heidi has a unique perspective on the heart of God. She isn’t a person who bought into the teachings of organized religion and had to relearn God’s heart when she got out. Heidi knew the truth about God’s heart long before she left church. She has a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. You’ll enjoy her heart in this conversation.

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    1. L.J.

    Oh my goodness Heidi... I absolutely LOVE your heart! You articulate things so well. Thank you for being you. I loved getting to know your story in more detail. This confirms so much about so much. :) I am so looking forward to hearing more from you. Loved it! Darin and Robert you guys were great too.. :)

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    Justin Shively

    Heidi, well done. I loved hearing you talk. As a musician and former worship band member, I can relate to everything you talked about. Thank you for sharing your heart. I know this one is going to be a blessing to so many out there.

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    I have listened to most of the podcasts in the last year. IMHO, this was one of the best. John

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    Heather Sterling

    LOL!!!! I about crocked when I heart you call Heidi by my name, lol!!!! Not once, but..... priceless. And I totally am honored to be in mixed up with the awesome Heidi!!!!! And what an amazing story dear dear Heidi.

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    Darin Hufford

    Heather anytime Alaska is mentioned; HEATHER comes to mind. I can't help it. You ARE Alaska!!! You are that majestic.

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    Heather Sterling


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    Jamie Bottoms

    Heidi, Great job explaining your and Dan's transition over the past years. The part that gets me every time is how you describe the Sunday morning with your daughter, when Grace asks you if you get to go worship God again while she goes to her class. I'm so proud of you. Thank you for stepping up and sharing!

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    John Stevens

    I haven't listened to this podcast for a few months, but for some reason I was drawn to listen to this one. I'm still trying to get myself together. I loved it. Thankyou guys.

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    I really appreciate this podcast! I was one of those worship leaders who looked around and felt the manipulation of the system. Worship means something completely to me now.

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    I've spent the last month listening to all the available podcast episodes, but this is the first I've felt compelled to comment on. It really is SO good to know other people are going through the same kind of things I've been going through.

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    This Podcast was a homerun - Bring Heidi back for more!! What about her husband? Can you get him also?

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    C. Lambert

    Without trying to sound "I've been there, done that"...I can honestly say to all of the listeners of this podcast: that I have been THERE and done THAT - "leave an abusive and manipulative leadership behind". My exit was literally 9 years ago from the same Church, with the same leadership, and I was doing the same thing- Leading Worship!!! I believe that the distance (9 years to today), has given me a little perspective on the how and the why of letting oneself be used and taken advantage of in Church Ministry. I believe that it really can be as simple as being 100% honest with yourself and God-in-you at all times. We all have an opportunity to hear from God and know His thoughts about us and for us in almost any given situation. Unfortunately, in some Churches leadership does not teach that YOU-the individual Christian can hear God's voice, (message), (heart) etc. all on your own. Then when a Pastor or teacher tells you something you can "honestly" distinguish if what they are cont-

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    C. Lambert

    Cont: Saying is truth, or really from God. Heidi - your story is very close to my heart, and I am glad that you are sharing it. I don't know what the road will look like as you and Dan continue on in your journey "Into the wild", but I honestly love you guys and look forward to seeing the good fruit of what God can do through your lives. Shalom CL

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    Great podcast, heidi and her husband are good friends of mine. Love them.

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I have worked with churches and have gone to various churches across the country and I can honestly say that I have never felt "in bondage" or "manipulated". Maybe its my personality or maybe I have just reached the few that have a heart for God and people....and who are real, even in inperfection. I currently go to a church that is so involved in the community and is real in their lives. It's small and focuses on small home groups which I love. They are the most open and casual people I've ever met. I can understand the feelings and comments in this podcast, but I just want to share that the "church" can be carried out in the non-traditional, non-stereotypical way even if it's gathered in a building and meets regularly:)!

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    Darin Hufford

    I believe that Margo with all my heart. I know of many churches out there who don't abuse their people. You may remember my friend Ty Bean who came and preached at our group several times. He has a wonderful church that spreads love and freedom. I am friends with many pastors who love the people in their church and would die for them. You're right. I still believe it CAN work. Unfortunately, it's coming out that there are thousands of churches that abuse people spiritually and put them in bondage. I truly wish these churches could take a lesson from the good ones. Also, I think the difference might be that Heidi was in leadership. It's always a different story when your in a staff position. It's a completely different story behind the scenes.

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    Darin Hufford

    For the record, I would like to state that I've personally met Heidi's pastor and several other leaders in her former church. They are wonderful people with a heart for God. I personally blame the system for most of the abuse we hear about from people like Heidi. There is a mentality in many Christian circles that encourages "personal sacrifice" in the name of serving the Lord. I watch people get trampled over and over in the name of "giving everything to Jesus." Over time I think the sacrifices can turn into abuse and do long term damage. I don't think it's intentional or planned. It just happens. It happens with the nicest people and the most well meaning pastors. Sometimes we just get so focused on spreading the message and suffering for Christ that we end up accidently hurting the people around us. I know I'm guilty of it. It happens when "spreading the message" becomes more important than the people to whom the message is for.

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    Ty Bean

    Heidi - Darin - Robert, Its 5:31a.m. I am calling everyone of my staff today and checking on them. I am going to listen for the "crap cover up" and really ask "How are you guys doing." They are not slaves - They are people, with jobs, with spouses, with kids with past times, with dreams, living for our God who they love-----I'm not God. This is a hard Podcast to listen to for pastors. I am one. After you listen to something like this its like backing up a school bus down a dark alley. This is healthy conversation that we must have. If your from the church this happened in.....Don't feel bad. We are all guilty. I hate the spotlight is on you, but you will see the reflection you started.

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    What about personal responsibility? I kept hearing what "leaders" demanded of us. What we were forced to do. Do we not, as worship leaders and leaders in the church, have a personal responsibility to be actively seeking God ourselves and constantly checking our motives and spirits against the Word of God? At what point, does it become the responsibility of the pastor to manage and decide what you can and can't do? Certainly, they should be understanding and have concern for their people. I do not lead worship and attend every service under the sun because I have to. I do it because I want to. I see what I do as service to my king, not people. God didn't call us to have our lives and then serve Him. He called us to serve Him and as a result, he would give us fruitful lives. And if we are doing it right, then they will be well balanced lives. Forsaking the gathering of the brethren is in direct defiance of the Word of God and will result in a slow road away from God.

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    Daniel Venie

    Ty Bean, I can't tell you how much your comment means to my wife and I. I wish I had words to articulate how I feel after reading what you wrote. You truly are a humble man with a big heart.

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    Darin Hufford

    Paul, I think you're reaching pretty far to assume that Heidi didn't take personal responsibility because we didn't cover that topic in this interview. Heidi merely gave her story of what she experienced. I think Heidi made it MORE than clear that she seeks Him and knows Him on a personal level. That would be the last thing I think ANYONE would question after listening to this. Paul you can't serve "your king" without going through His people. As much as you've done it to the least of these, you've done it unto Him. Jesus said that He came that we would have life and life abundant. He didn't say "if you serve me." Believe it or not He will give you a fruitful life whether or not you serve Him a day in your life. What kind of a Father would withhold a happy life from his child unless his child served him for it??? Finally, where in the world did you get that ANYONE was "forsaking the gathering????" Who's doing that in this podcast???

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    Heidi Venie

Ty Bean, I echo my husband's words! Many people (especially those in church leadership, and maybe Paul ^^^) may listen to this and think we're full of it and that we actually brought it upon ourselves, but you, Sir are one of the main reasons it is so necessary to share our experiences in church. We want to give a voice to those that have none to first encourage them that they are not alone and that they don't have to stand for it anymore. We also want to bring to light the unnecessary abuse/casualties/whatever you want to call it to those that have ears to hear the heart of what we have to say so that the cycle stops. I absolutely see your heart Ty and LOVE it! I appreciate everything you said! Paul, there can be NO ministry/serving/etc. without people...and there will be NO people without LOVE. Period.

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    C. Lambert

    For Heidi, and any readers that may interpret what I posted as being judgmental of their situation ~ "like it was their fault they didn't get out sooner", that IS NOT what I was trying to convey. Living on this side of that type of relationship/bodageship , I meant to say that I remember in my heart that I always knew what was really the right thing to do, I just needed to trust my heart (The Lord speaking to me) sooner. You are so correct Heidi; anyone in this type of "Church" bondage doesn't have to stand for it anymore!!! The doors swing both ways:-) Hopefully your story inspires others to take a stand…

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    Darin Hufford

    Heidi didn't interpret your post as judgmental. She was deeply moved by it Cecil. Thanks for commenting.

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    Darin Heidi and Robert, thanks for this i'm not sure why exactly it is encouraging but it is, i feel like i needed and got a hug this morning listening, virtual though it be, i'm taking it. peace.

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    Yes I am a person, ex-worship leader/band member who has been there done that also. I actually haven't been able to download the podcast yet so haven't heard the whole story.....but I pretty much know it after being involved for around 20 years. There are some good churches and some not and of course "the system" is set up to keep perpetuating these mentalities. As a former member of it all I don't feel abused by it at this point. (Left 3 years ago). I chose to do it, I had fun, I learned a lot and when I knew I wasn't suppose to be doing it any more......I left. I left later than I should have but it was all learning. And I definately worshipped God and drew near in those services despite the requirements and boundaries and rules placed on me. I just couldn't continue and go forward in my relationship with my Father God. It was the whole church set up too & I know all churches aren't like that. Sadly a majority are.

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    Okay just heard the podcast. Oh yeah! The time sucker.....looking back in regret having missed most all my nieces soccer games and family time you can't get back. Wondering how that all shows the love of God to your own family. Yes I had to do re-evaluation and it is painful. Wasn't involved in the degree of religiousness Heidi was, but definately don't agree with that whole system. (So okay abuse is abuse) Lots of things that are similar in my life......and now the move forward with all it's questions and need for God, but hopefully real love will come forth.

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