So many of us who have gone through spiritual abuse came from a church where a pastor or church leader acted like a bully in our spiritual or personal lives. Pastor Wade Burleson recently posted an article and it is so contrary to what I have experienced in churches. Here is a portion of the article, but please be sure to read the whole article, Who’s the Boss at Your Church?. It is so good!
It is completely contrary to Scripture to believe that some men have been given more moral and spiritual authority than other believers within the church. In the ekklesia of Jesus Christ, any person, male or female, recognized as being in Christ carries as much moral and spiritual authority as any other person–no more, no less–the same. The state may recognize trustees with greater legal authority, or pastors with greater state authority (the officiant in marriages, etc…) or signatures bearing corporate authority (deeds, title, etc…), but God established in his ekklesia a group of people with equal spiritual authority. Pay attention to those who are older and wiser in the ekklesia of Christ. Minister to those around you with a servant’s heart and attitude. But if you ever begin to feel that somebody is beginning to exert spiritual authority and power over you and other individuals in an attempt to govern Christ’s church, then it is time to confront the abuser of the ekklesia and call him out, and maybe even put him out. My friend wrote a bestselling book called The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, but maybe another one needs to be written entitled The Subtle Problem of Not Confronting Spiritual Abuse. A healthy ekklesia won’t allow an abuse of power. It’s not easy confronting abusers, but for the good of the ekklesia it must be done.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:9).
Have you ever been a part of a church that treated each others as having the same moral and spiritual authority? Is this radical or what? And what about the role of women? Can you imagine the ministry work that could be accomplished in an environment like this where all are respected for their gifts to the Body, regardless of age or sex? I think I need some more time to stew about this.
I know there are many who read here who haven’t been able to stomach church since their spiritually abusive church experience. If you found a church like this, would you go?
I do have one question – – how does a church like this deal with church discipline? What if there is a case of domestic violence in the church? Does a church need a hierarchical structure for church discipline? How would this work?
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Free book on spiritual abuse on Kindle at Amazon for limited time:
Breaking the Chains: Overcoming the Spiritual Abuse of a False Gospel
Description from Amazon: Shari Howerton was born and raised in Southern California. Her worldview was formed inside a tightly knit religious community, by the one pastor she had known from birth. In 1993, she and hundreds of others sold their homes in California and followed their pastor to Tennessee. In 2003, Shari left the church and soon thereafter found hope in a new life with her husband, John, and church family at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In Breaking the Chains, Shari chronicles her life and the lives of others who were subject to control and abuse. She illustrates the profound challenges of leaving close friends and breaking free from a lifetime of harmful conditioning to find joy, hope and freedom in the cross of Jesus Christ.
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