When Church Leaders Seem Abusive And Non-Responsive

For Part One of this mini-series read, One-Sided Thinking. I was prompted to write this series by comments on my blog. One comment ripped Martin Luther. The other comment linked to sites that skewered a pastor I had highlighted in one of my Best of the Best on the Christian Net. Both comments, as I indicated in Part One, were 100% one-sided. 

I emailed the person who posted the links about the pastor. It was a very civil, and I hope a helpful e-conversation. The commenter explained that a major purpose of the sites was to provide a source of healing for those who suffered abuse. 

Everyone who follows my biblical counseling ministry knows that I’m convinced that biblical counseling must deal with the evils we have suffered. I even have a label for this “biblical sufferology.” I’ve authored a book on this vital issue, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting

If you’ve read the book, then you know that I believe in candor about suffering—honesty with ourselves. You also know I believe in complaint/lament—being honest with God about our suffering. So…I’m not a “stuff it” or an “ignore it” person when it comes to a biblical approach to finding God’s healing hope. 

You also know that I believe in reconciliation and restoration. So I asked the commenter about the Matthew 18 principle. He replied that the Matthew 18 principle doesn’t work with this pastor and his ministry. He also felt that the blogs keep the pastor from abusing with immunity. 

It is a fair issue to ponder. When it seems as if church leadership is not being responsive to concerns, what do members do? When it seems as if church leadership will not follow the Matthew 18 principle, what is a person to do? This is an especially complicated issue when a church is non-denominational and thus there is no “court of appeal” beyond the pastor and the leadership board. 

That said, as I read some of the posts about the pastor’s ministry, they struck me as less about healing and more about hurting—hurting the pastor and his ministry. Biblically, I have a hard time finding support for this type of ongoing, public, joint, one-sided, destructive response to perceived hurt. 

Biblical counseling includes an understanding of how God designed us, how sin and suffering impact us, and how God brings cure and care to the soul. From this biblical counseling perspective, I have a hard time finding support for ongoing, public, one-sided, group catharsis as a means of healing. 

The Rest of the Story

This raises at least two more issues—issues I will address in future posts in this mini-series. First, what interpersonal reconciliation response options could and should be followed when church leadership is non-responsive during a Matthew 18 process? 

Second, from a personal “healing” perspective, how should individuals respond and find God’s healing hope when the person who hurt them will not take responsibility? 

Join the Conversation

What do you think the Bible says about public group catharsis as a means of public accountability and personal healing?

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