Thursday, April 2, 2015

How to Deal With Those Church Bullies

How do we deal with church bullies? What can we do to prevent such bullying? Here are nine of my suggestions: (from Thom Ranier)
  1. Fight bullying with the power of prayer. The most common targets of church bullies are the pastor and church staff. I encourage everyone in vocational ministry to ask humbly for people to pray for them daily. In two of the churches where I served as pastor, I had as many as 100 or more people committed to pray for me daily. They typically prayed for me for only two or three minutes each day at noon. Their intercessory prayers for me were brief, but they were powerful!
  2. Seek to have an Acts 6 group in the church. I am specifically referring to the manner in which the Jerusalem church dealt with murmuring and complaining. They appointed a group to take care of the widows who were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The seven who were appointed to the task were thus not only to do that ministry, but they were also to preserve the unity of the church. Churches need either informal or formal groups that see their ministry as dealing with conflict, complaints, and dissension so that unity is preserved.
  3. Have a high expectation church. I have addressed the issues of high expectation churches and low expectation churches many times on this blog. Higher expectation churches tend to be more unified, more Great Commission focused, more biblically defined, and more servant oriented. Stated simply, high expectation churches don’t offer an environment conducive to bullying.
  4. Encourage members to speak and stand up to church bullies. Bullying thrives in a church where the majority remains in silent fear of church bullies. Bullies tend to back down when confronted by strong people in the church. We just need more strong people in the church.
  5. Make certain the polity of the church does not become a useful instrument to church bullies. Many churches have ambiguous structures and lines of accountability. Polity is weak and ill-defined. Bullies take advantage of the ambiguity and interpret things according to their nefarious needs.
  6. Be willing to exercise church discipline. Church discipline is a forgotten essential of many churches. Bullies need to know there are consequences for their actions, and church discipline may be one of them.
  7. Have a healthy process to put the best-qualified persons in positions of leadership in the church. Bullies often are able to push around less qualified people who have found themselves in positions of leadership. There should be a spiritually and strategically designed process to choose and recruit people for key leadership positions.
  8. Have a healthy process to hire church staff. For example, an egregious mistake would be the church’s hiring of a senior staff member without the enthusiastic support of the pastor. If the pastor and new staff member do not have good chemistry, a church bully can quickly pit one against the other. A unified church staff is a major roadblock for a church bully.
  9. Encourage a celebratory environment in the church. Joyous churches deter bullies. They like somber and divided churches.
Church bullying is more widespread than we often like to admit. I hope these nine suggestions can help keep the bullies out of your church.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Church Bullies

Got this article from Thom Ranier.  Spot on!  I hope that it's helpful to you. (I've made a couple of tweaks to it, just FYI.)
Church bullies are common in many churches. They wreak havoc and create dissension. They typically must have an “enemy” in the church, because they aren’t happy unless they are fighting a battle. They tend to maneuver to get an official leadership position in the church, such as chairman of the elders or deacons or treasurer or head up some ministry. But they may have bully power without any official position.
Church bullies have always been around. But they seem to be doing their work more furiously today than in recent history. Perhaps this look at nine traits of church bullies can help us recognize them before they do too much damage.
  1. They do not recognize themselves as bullies. To the contrary, they see themselves as necessary heroes sent to save the church from all of her ills.
  2. They have personal and self-serving agendas. They have determined what “their” church should look like. Any person or ministry or program that is contrary to their perceived ideal church must be eliminated.
  3. They seek to form power alliances with weak members in the church. They will pester and convince groups, committees, and persons to be their allies in their cause. Weaker church staff members and church members will succumb to their forceful personalities.
  4. They tend to have intense and emotional personalities. These bullies use the intensity of their personalities to get their way.
  5. They are famous for saying “people are saying.” They love to gather tidbits of information and shape it to their own agendas. See my previous post on this one item.
  6. They find their greatest opportunities in low expectation churches. Many of the church members have an entitlement view of church membership. They seek to get their own needs and preferences fulfilled. They, therefore, won’t trouble themselves to confront and deal with church bullies. That leads to the next issue, which is a consequence of this point.
  7. They are allowed to bully because church members will not stand up to them. I have spoken with pastors and church staff who have been attacked by church bullies. While the bully brings them great pain, they have even greater hurt because most of the church members stood silent and let it happen.
  8. They create chaos and wreak havoc. A church bully always has his next mission. While he or she may take a brief break from one bullying mission to the next, they are not content unless they are exerting the full force of their manipulative behavior.
  9. They often move to other churches after they have done their damage.Whether they are forced out or simply get bored, they will move to other churches with the same bullying mission. Some bullies have wreaked havoc in three or more churches.
Church bullying is epidemic in many of our congregations. They must be stopped. I'm praying for God's boldness as you do what you know God is calling you to do. Save your church headache and heartache. Take care of the bullies.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

When a Pharisee Got Easter

Numbers 21:4–9
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,  to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” 
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. 

Psalm 107:17–22
17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways 
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 
18 They loathed all food 
and drew near the gates of death. 
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, 
and he saved them from their distress. 
20 He sent out his word and healed them; 
he rescued them from the grave. 
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love 
and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings 
and tell of his works with songs of joy. 

John 3:14–21
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,  15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. 

This last section of scripture is from John's gospel and an account in chapter 3 of Jesus's encounter with a Pharisee named Nicodemus.  Nicodemus was a closet and quasi believer in Jesus.  Jesus shared with him the whole enchilada really, but Nicodemus probably didn't "get it" till a moment later in John's gospel.  Till Jesus was hanging on the cross, above the crowd.  Then I think the moment of clarity came to this Pharisee as John 3:14 echoed in his memory.  The Son of Man was lifted up on a cross to save the people just like the snake was lifted up to save the people in the wilderness.  Knowing the prophecies about the Messiah well as a Pharisee,  I think it started clicking for him: Isaiah 53:5-6 "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all"  And as Nicodemus was there with the crowds watching Jesus be crucified, he saw the fulfillment of Jesus's words.  That's the moment with Nicodemus went from private to public with his faith, as we see him actually asked for the body of Jesus and make sure that Jesus got a proper burial before the Sabbath.  He crossed over from death to life.  Praise God for His glorious work of redemption!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween, Scalloween

I had a lady come to me a few weeks all bent out of shape that we were offering a "halloween alternative" through our Festival of Light outreach on October 31st.  She thought we were participating in evil and glorifying darkness.  I told her that we are doing quite the contrary.  We are trying to be a light on a dark night.  We are loving our community through service as well.  Bob Russell addresses this issue on his blog this week.  Check out what he has to say here:

Thanks again, Bob.

May Christ be glorified in ALL we do.


Monday, May 5, 2014

A Great Example

This is a great example of what I was talking about yesterday in regards to confrontation within the Body of Christ.  Check out Bob Russell's blog post here:

If you missed the message yesterday and want to hear it, check out our YouTube channel:
Look at the message from 5-4-2014.

Keep the faith!