Skip to comments.Bullies in the Church
Posted on 10/13/2010 11:15:44 PM PDT by hawkins
A person very dear to me asked if I thought there were bullies in the Church. My answer to him was a resounding Yes!. When the mind turns itself to thinking about what a bully is, we may think of some big guy who pushes folks around. The bully scares them and gets what he wants because of how he acts. Typically, but not always, he has a posse, that is a group of folks who do what he says because of fear, admiration, a family relationship, or personal benefit. Yes, the bully may even be a woman.
Are we talking about the Church? The place where folks go to worship God who strive to devote their life in purity to Christ? Yes, but remember, even in the Church, there are folks who make mistakes, make poor decisions, and who put their worldly desires ahead of Christ. You do not need to look far in the scriptures to see examples of reprimand for poor behavior on behalf of folks calling themselves by Christs name. That man is not perfect left to his own behavior, is exactly why Christ came to earth. Luk 12:51 Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:. We are going to view another scripture in a moment using the word division. However, it is not used in the same manner. The division of Christ is to make a clear distinction between those who are obeying His Words and those who are not.
To be exact about what constitutes bullying, I want to provide the key terms defining a bully from Random House Dictionary: intimidate; domineer, coerce, and overbearing. A bully in the Church may fit all of these terms or only one of them. All bullies are not the same. They do not all operate in the same fashion. They may not even realize they are bullies. However, they are all detrimental to the function of the Church if their behaviors are not addressed. They will create division in a negative fashion as opposed to that which Christ creates.
1 Corinthians 1:10Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them.
As you can see, the division spoken of in these verses is not desired. In fact, Gal. 5:20 speaks of division as a work of the flesh, a sinful occurrence.
Now, what does a bully look like in the Church? Well, as mentioned, they may be male or female. They may be a little old lady, a popular youth minister, a preacher, deacon, or elder (or their wives), a middle aged businessman, a very aggressive, extrovert female, or a host of other forms. In fact, do not think for a moment that bullies are only singular in form. They may be the pillar of the congregation couple who has been there since the location was founded. Perhaps they are the family with many young children. They may be the family which has generations of members in the building. Yes, they can even be the family which gives the most in the form of contribution. 2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light. To be clear, the context of 2 Corinthians is folks purposely sinful. Bullies arent always aware of their sinful behavior. The comparision comes because sometimes, bullies are wrapped in an appearance for which you would least expect there to be a problem.
Sadly, there are so many examples of bullying I have seen or heard of in the Church. Some were dealt with, some not. The fact is, many are simply ignored so as not to rock the boat. How do these folks create an intimidating, domineering, coercing, and overbearing atmosphere? I will list a number of examples, though certainly it is not an exhaustive list.
First consider as a potential bully, the well known Diotrephes as a bully. 3 John 1:9, speaks of this person as being one who loves preeminence. By definition, this is one who loves being first. The issue is purposefully being in control of everything that is happening. Because they are in the middle of everything, they develop a perception of having power or control. In the Church, folks do not desire conflict. Many do not want to be perceived as being pushy. Consequently, when someone puts themselves in the middle of everything and more or less takes control, few people are going to say anything. The fact is things need to be done and unfortunately, many times there are not folks stepping up to do the work that needs to be done. Diotrephes at times is even considered somewhat of a hero in a congregation. Unfortunately, this can result in a situation where things are not done, unless they are done Diotrephes way. We start with examining the Diotrephes personality because it actually has a great similarity to the other bully personalities. They all want their way and in one way or another have found a way to exert pressure to get what they want.
Second consider as a potential bully, Mr. or Mrs. Popularity. If you disagree with them or they do not get their way, then you are going to have a large number of people (their posse) miffed at you. You will be blackballed, meaning you wont be part of their in group. Yes, it sounds like high school. Wherever you find folks gathering together: school, work, sports, recreation groups, or congregations, these groups will form. Sometimes, we even encourage the separation, breaking members off into groups and limiting the interaction of the full body together (teens, seniors, singles, couples, couples with kids, mids, etc.). In each of these groups, leaders arise and they are not always the kind of leader that represents Christ appropriately. They take control and exert their bully behavior.
Third consider as a potential bully, the Youth Minister. As stated before by me in other discussions, the youth ministers should be mom and dad. However, since this is an ever increasing position within the Churches, let me suggest that the proper person be selected for this position. That is preferably a middle aged man who has raised his children up and out of the home. One who has no illusions about being King of the Youth. A person who understands that they are under an eldership and their responsibility is making certain the Bible is taught. They are not a mother or father replacement. What I have seen occur is that a youth minister may become one who is viewed as the high authority on how to handle youths. What they want they get. If their way is not approved, they have the youth stage a revolt/temper tantrum to get their way. Parents dont want whiney children. If the Children whine, the youth minister often gets his way. This means, of course, that an eldership is given the what for by parents for the youth minister and bullied into backing down. Bullying behavior is often accomplished through the means of others (the posse).
Fourth consider as a potential bully, the preacher, who through his words directs a congregation into getting his way. A preacher certainly holds a spot central to a congregation. They also hold the ears of an eldership. This is a position which has no authority, but which yields a great deal of influence. They must remember their position as one who is sharing the word of God. Their words must have the authority of Scripture. They must submit themselves to an eldership all the while being the best servant they can to encourage and aid the eldership. They must not make the decisions for an eldership. The sad part of this close and personal relationship with elders is the wide open area for criticism of undue influence. A strong eldership will not allow such bullying from a preacher or those who falsely accuse him. A strong preacher, will remember he is but a servant with no authority to oversee. Of course, the one caveat here is if the preacher is also an elder. That too is a unique situation, but this is why choosing an eldership should not be done in haphazard fashion.
Fifth consider as a potential bully, wives of preachers, deacons, and elders who must remember they are not co-preacher, deacon or elder. They are simply Christians. Often congregations treat these folks as if they do have authority. They have none. Many a wife has dominated what happens as far as ladies groups, activities, youth education, and class discussion. The influence a wife has upon her husband is great. Yet, it is not their place to badger or coerce their husbands into decisions (I Corinthians 11:3). This is not an uncommon behavior. This bullying reflects poorly upon the family and the congregation. Briefly, on the other side of that coin, many a preacher, deacon, and elders wife has been mistreated for the decisions or actions of their husbands.
Finally considered as potential bullies, lets group together the family who contributes a large amount each week, the family with many children, and the family who has many generations of members attending. These groups are offering very precious commodities. Funds are often viewed as indispensible (they arent). Youth are often viewed as indispensible (they arent). Many members are often viewed as indispensible (they arent). Are all of these a blessing to have? Yes! Can a congregation be sound and pleasing to God without them? Yes. Yet, some folks feel they can get their way if they threaten to leave and take their funds, youth, or families. This is a very common bullying ploy in congregations. It is shameful and disgusting. Yet, it is often effective. Everyone tiptoes around these folks because of fear of upsetting them. Weak preachers avoid topics which might cause ripples among them. Weak elderships dismiss preachers who rile these folks with sound truthful lessons.
As stated, these are not the only examples I have seen or heard of which demonstrate bullying in the Church. I do want to point out, however, that these folks often exhibit passive aggressive behavior. Their words are often demonstrative of a woe is me or poor me attitude. They say all they want was to be helpful, involved, and appreciated. Then, when they dont get their way, they stop attending, refuse to cooperate or participate in activities and classes, cut their funds, pull their kids out of classes, or go off and create their own activity with their group or friends as a sort of I told you so example. They want their way and if you dont bend, they will show you. They will pout, whine to others, and generally create headaches for folks until they get what they want unless, the eldership refuses to put up with it. That, of course, goes straight to the topic of Church discipline which is another topic altogether.
Friends, consider these verses:
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.
Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.
The body of Christ is to be a unified body. Division is not acceptable. Bullying which causes division is sinful. There is no member or group of members which is more important than any other. If bullying occurs within a congregation repentance must occur. This can occur only if the individuals or groups are approached and directed into proper behavior (Matthew 18:15-17). If they do not repent, then the Godly division which Christ spoke about must occur. The sinners must be separated from the Saints.
Oh man, would I ever love to preach that sermon to my congregation. However, there are too many bullies there who fit these profiles, and I don’t want to make them mad.(tongue firmly in cheek)
when I go to the site, I can’t find the article “Bullies in the Church”.
Grow some cojones.
This is ridiculous.
Amen & Amen!
These things should be taught in all churches. As a believer, saved and added to the church back in May 1953, I have seen this bullying practiced in many forms.
It should not be so. If we knew God’s Word (His instructions to the Church)these things would not be manifested among us.
One of the greatest damages to our local churches is trying to promote our own personal agendas: such as promoting our own family members, children, grandchildren, neices, nephews etc.
Let us be led of the Spirit (Romans 8:14 and 8:16) and :”Hid God’s Word in our hearts” (Psalm 119:9-11)
May we ever be reminded that the Church is not our Church but it is His Church (Ephesians 5:25)
This reads like the manifesto of a failed bully who, having failed to have their own way on some matter, now denounces those who stood their ground of being bullies themselves. In order for the circumstances described to not be objectionable to the author, it would be necessary that he have his own way in all things. This, of course, is the attitude of a bully. Nowhere in this article do I find the suggestion that members should expect to suffer and endure some difference of opinion. I find instead the tacit notion that the author is a victim of others who have refused (perhaps unknowingly) that burden themselves. It is the author’s outlook which is poisonous and divisive.
Seems to me that the Religion of Peace, aka Islam, was made for bullies.
Your typical Muslim’s attitude toward `infidels’ is “my way or the highway”.
Case in point (among thousands): the Ground Zero Mosque and its proponents.
I always heard this type of behavior referred to as Church politics. I think the term “bully” overstates it. The whole bully concept is being overused these days, mostly by those who use to paint someone who disagrees them.
Ha WVNan! Now that if funny!
Yep. Power and intimidation are found in the Church, too. BTDT. It’s not something easily overcome when one has been the target. Sad that God’s family can be as dysfunctional as the world’s.
What you are saying might be right in some circumstances, but I read from the article a reality that the church that follows the doctrines of the Bible will be “bullied” from time to time by those who don’t follow the Scriptures or don’t portray the Christian spirit. The doctrines of Christ are not negotiable or open to opinion. But the forces of darkness will them by creating havoc or “bullying”.