My work to help educate the church about spiritual abuse and toxic leadership includes a lot of reading, research, and listening. I hear new stories of abuse in the church – almost daily. As I learn more about it, I share with you. Some in the church would rather not talk about these things. They believe we harm the church and the name of Jesus to the world when we bring abuse to light.
That is not the truth. Abusers are harming the church. Abusers are damaging the witness. They use the name of Jesus for their own gain and purposes. I will continue to speak out about abuse in the church and point us back to Jesus.
Last month’s installment in my Giant Church Inc series is one of the most read. It received a lot of engagement from readers who had their own ways to spot Giant Church Inc and so I include some of their contributions here.
The People Say
- If members of your church are regularly called Jezebel or Ahab, so much so that your children start labeling their friends at school, you are part of Giant Church Inc.
- If your lead pastor has ever said these words to you, “If anyone asks, you volunteered to help me with my __________,” then you are probably at Giant Church Inc. (Fill in the blank with book, styling, logo, deck, business – you get the idea.)
- If children’s ministry is claimed to be the top priority because the needs of the 150 children who attend are of utmost importance, yet you’re given a budget of $50 per month to buy pre-service snacks and supplies for the small groups…..you might be part of Giant Church Inc.
- If you are told by heavy-handed church leaders over and over to “recruit more volunteers, build the team under you because as a volunteer, that’s your job,” (but you already have a job) while they don’t serve in any area because their job is to be a church leader or staff person, then you are part of Giant Church Inc.
- If “be a leader, not a manager” is taught from the pulpit, then when you become an area leader, you’re taught to build your team so that you can sit back and watch all the little workers under you do the work, like the church staff watches you…..you are in the thick of Giant Church Inc. (see comment on last month’s post for clarity)
- If your pastors and some of your church leaders live way beyond the lifestyle of the average members of your church, you might be part of Giant Church Inc.
- If the pastors claim they should live the lavish lifestyle because God has blessed them with a thriving business and they are highly favored due to their hard work for the ministry…..your pastors might be Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker or you’re at Giant Church Inc.
- If the pastors and other church leaders use the church and its volunteers to build a personal or corporate brand, you’re part of Giant Church Inc and it’s okay to suggest to your pastors to try to get on Shark Tank. Maybe one of the business investors will like the branding idea.
- If you’re told to put on a happy face and white knuckle your way through the dark seasons of your life – death, mental illness, job loss, health crisis – you’re part of Giant Church Inc.
- If your church leadership has convinced you that everyone “out there” (that would be anyone not deeply enmeshed with Giant Church Inc world) is not worth listening to because you all have a better edge on the truth and have a clearer and truer vision of Jesus than everyone else….then RUN….you can choose not to be part of Giant Church Inc. If the consequences of leaving Giant Church Inc terrify you – that’s another indication you are part of something that is toxic.
I wish these things rarely happened in the church.
My next post in the series will discuss how this happened. How we did get here, church? And how do we move forward as faithful followers of Jesus?