Friday, September 24, 2010

Matthew 18 and Confronting Abusive Church Leaders

Kevin Johnson at Communio Sanctorum writes an interesting piece, titled Principles Not Procedures, about dealing with spiritual abuse coming from church leaders.  One of his points is that the Matthew 18 passage we are all so familiar with isn't necessarily the one we need to follow in addressing church leaders.

No one doubts that Matthew 18 is a relevant passage in dealing with resolving offenses between brothers, but the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 is set in a very specific context that is often overlooked. In churches where spiritual abuse is occurring particularly at the hands of ministers and pastors who rule by fear, intimidation, and the inordinate and inappropriate use of Scripture–passages like this can become a very powerful weapon to accomplish and maintain abuse instead of legitimate repentance and reconciliation...

...The tragedy is that if you don’t follow a procedure like this in many abusive church environments, you will be called on the carpet for disobeying our Lord’s words, acting against his ministers wrongly, and encouraging division in the covenant community.

Johnson also points out that many abusive methods of leadership are simply learned from others, so appeal to higher authorities within church structures may make no difference.  If you have ever been subject to abuse from church leadership, know somebody who has, or are simply interested in the topic, I urge you to read Johnson's post.

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