Nine Traits of Church Bullies

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by Thom Rainer

Editor’s Note; Great article. Please read!

First of two parts

Church bullies are common in many congregations. Wreaking havoc, stirring up trouble and creating dissension, bullies typically must have an “enemy.” They aren’t happy unless they are fighting a battle.

Typically, they tend to maneuver to get an official leadership position in the church, such as chairman of the elders or deacons or treasurer. However, even without this kind of status, some seek a “bully pulpit” sans any official position.

Increasing presence

Bullies have been around throughout church history. Yet 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 more damage.

1. They do not recognize themselves as bullies. To the contrary, they see themselves as necessary heroes sent to save the church from herself.

2. They have personal and self-serving agendas. They have determined what “their” church should look like. Any person, ministry or program that is contrary to their perceived ideal of the church must be eliminated.

3. They seek to form power alliances with weaker members in the congregation. They will pester and persuade as they seek to convince groups, committees, and individuals to join them as allies in their cause. Weaker staff members and church members will succumb to their forceful personalities.

4. They tend to have intense and emotional personalitiesThese bullies often use the intensity of their personalities to intimidate others and get their way.

5. They are famous for employing the phrase: “People are saying…” They love to gather tidbits of information and shape it to fit their particular agendas.

6. They find their greatest opportunities in low-expectation churches. Many church members have an “entitlement” view of membership. Instead of seeking to do missions and focus on those outside the body of Christ, they seek to fulfill their own needs and preferences. Therefore, they  won’t trouble themselves with confronting and dealing with church bullies. That leads to the next issue, which is a consequence of this point.

7. They are allowed to get away with bullying because other 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 brought them great pain, they experienced even greater hurt because most church members stood silent and allowed this to take place. .

8. They create chaos and wreak havoc. A church bully always has his (or her) next mission in mind. While he or she may take a brief break from one bullying cause to the next, such people are not content unless they are exerting the full force of their manipulative behavior.

9. After doing their damage, bullies often move to another churchWhether members finally put their foot down and force them out, or they get bored, bullies will move elsewhere with the same kind of mission in mind. Some bullies have wreaked havoc in three or more churches.

Calling a halt

Church bullying is epidemic in many of our congregations. They must be stopped. In my next post, I will deal with the topic of preventing church bullying.

You can read the original article here.

Next Monday Thom will complete this series with “9 Ways to Deal With Church Bullies!” 

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