Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
Throughout our time at BGBC, we came across this message on a consistent basis: you won’t find a better church in the area. We very clearly got the message that it’s very difficult to find a good church. There is truth in that statement. However, there was an attitude of arrogance and elitism presented by the pastor that other churches were inferior to his church. Here are some of the ways this was demonstrated:
- Other churches don’t preach the full counsel of God, they minced words and have only light and fluffy sermons.
- Most churches don’t evangelize like BGBC and it’s rare to find a church where members evangelize on a weekly basis.
- Friendship evangelism is an inferior method of evangelism. Our method is better.
- Other churches play watered-down praise and worship music, but we play only hymns and good praise songs.
- We don’t let our young ladies/women show their cleavage because we know how to dress modestly. Other churches don’t even address that issue like we do.
- Most of our families homeschool their children because it’s not right to let the government take over our children’s education.
- We would never have a youth group because you know what happens with kids and raging hormones. Any of our youth activities are always supervised with parents/elders and we have a Bible study to go along with the activity because we’re more spiritual and other youth groups are primarily for social and fun activities.
- Most of our moms stayed at home with the children rather than pawn the children off in daycare.
I am not saying that the above ideas are right or wrong. You bet I think having moms at home with little ones is ideal and homeschooling is a great option because parents can play a wonderful part in their children’s education and know what they are being taught, etc. But people, the attitude is wrong. It was, “we do it the right way and if you do it another way, you are wrong”. This is the sin of pride. It is also works-based, not grace-based. It is not done out of love and obedience, but is like a show on display.
This attitude has far-reaching ramifications, however. You can become so convinced that no other church will measure up to these standards that it can hold you captive in that church sometimes for years. We all want the best for our families. Hearing it said time and again that this is the best church, why would you ever take your family to an inferior church? It makes it very difficult to leave. This is one of the tools used to keep the people held emotionally and spiritually captive.
Here is more on elitism I found at an online blog dealing with spiritual abuse. Provender.
What elitism does is unify church members. They get the message. THEY don’t want to be like the worldly groups out there that don’t care about lost souls or the poor or missions or the scripture. They want to make sure they are among the chosen few. To do this, they will hunker down, they will keep to the group, they will make sure the leadership knows they are loyal and true and not heathen like those other groups outside.
When things get messy and they are tempted to leave, elitism is a powerful handcuff. Members have spent so much time looking down on other groups and playing up their own gifts, that to leave means they have to reverse their thinking, and that’s very hard to do. Suddenly, they are thinking about no longer being part of God’s special group, and also about joining up with groups they – along with the church leadership – have looked down on for so long. That’s a hard reversal to stomach.
Besides bragging about gifts and callings, and besides castigating other “inferior” churches, another sign of elitism is when the pastor or leaders won’t meet with other community pastors. They will not join ministerial alliances or Christian groups in a community. They are too good for those lukewarm Christians. They are far above them and will not deign to rub shoulders with them. While many elitist pastors do meet with such groups either just for show or because it lends credibility to the group, the very hard core elitists will not. If your pastor won’t meet with other pastors unless they are of the same denomination, it is a big, bright, red flag that he is an elitist and possibly abusive.
Elitism can be blatant or subtle, but it’s a common trait of abusive churches.
Psalm 149:4 For the LORD delights in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.