by Thom Rainer
Editor’s Note; Excellent article. Please read!
Second of two parts
In my last post in this space, I dealt with the traits of church bullies. In this blog, I will move from descriptive to prescriptive. How do we deal with church bullies? What can we do to prevent such bullying?
Here are nine of my suggestions for dealing with these church destroyers.
Facing the issues
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 members and others to pray for them daily.
In two of the churches where I served as pastor, I had as many as 100 or more people who committed to pray for me daily. They typically prayed for me for only two or three minutes each day at noon. Although their intercessory prayers for me were brief, they were powerful!
2. Seek to have an “Acts 6 group” in the church. I am specifically referring to the manner in which the church in Jerusalem 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 deacons who were appointed to the task not only performed this ministry, they preserved the unity of the church. Churches need either informal or formal groups that see their ministry as dealing with conflict, complaints, and dissension. Resolving sticky situations before they “blow up” helps avoid division.
3. Have a high-expectation church. Higher-expectation churches tend to be more unified. They are more focused on fulfilling the Great Commission, 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 out and stand up to church bullies. Bullying thrives in a church where the majority cower in silent fear of the minority. Bullies tend to back down when strong members confront them. We need more strong people in the church.
5. Make certain the polity of the church does not become a useful instrument to church bullies. Because many churches have ambiguous structures and lines of accountability, polity is weak and ill-defined. This gives bullies an advantage to capitalize on ambiguity and interpret things according to their nefarious designs.
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 church leadership. Bullies often are able to push around less-qualified people who wind up 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 represents a major roadblock for a church bully.
9. Encourage a celebratory environment in the church. Joyous churches deter bullies. They prefer to operate amid somber and divided environments.
Suggestions for help
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, or at least deal with them more effectively.
You can see the original article here.