“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” – 1 Peter 5
There are a number of warnings in your post:
– this is habitual
– he appears to be the sole pastor (versus a plurality of elders)
– mind control (they left because they don’t want the truth)
I was also in a “movement” that used these pressure tactics. They are NOT of God. Period.
Read 1 Peter 5: “not domineering over those in your charge…” This doesn’t mean the pastor isn’t bold, but he should never abuse his authority.
If there’s a sole leader (vs the New Testament order of a plurality of elders) it’s a prime situation for abuse. Not always, but the “Moses” model (sole elder) is not seen in the New Testament.
A word to the wise – stop fearing man (Jeremiah 17:5-8).
Find a biblical church that has a plurality of tested elders, preaches expositorily through books of the bible, and one that practices church discipline.