“Clergy Killer” – people who destroy pastors

While rare, clergy killers are real.  It would be wise to know of the concept and have a bit of knowledge on hand in case you should ever encounter one.

Clergy Killers, By G. Lloyd Rediger, ISBN 978-0664257538

From my review at Amazon:

You may wonder why there is a book tackling what seems to be an issue so severe that it must be extremely rare, if it even really exists.  The author is addressing the specific situation when a member of the congregation is truly focused on destroying a pastor.  Most people have never seen a clergy killer in operation.  I have.

I’ve worked with a number of churches over the years and from first-hand observations can testify such individuals exist. They may be rare, but they really do exist. If you are a member of the clergy it would be wise to read this book and file away the knowledge for some future day.  If you are under severe attack right now, get the book for your self-preservation.

The author distinguishes between three types of conflict: normal, abnormal, and spiritual.  Each of them needs to be handled differently.  The first type can be managed, negotiated, settled, or mediated. The second type won’t respond well to those approaches and probably will need involvement from professional caregivers.  The third type has to be addressed from a completely different direction.  It isn’t possible to negotiate or agree-to-disagree in a spiritual conflict.  The insights from the book, along with large doses of discernment, can give you a shot at recognizing which conflict is in which category.  Then you have a shot at resolving them successfully.

Defining those three types of conflicts and explaining how to handle each of them is the primary focus of the book.  The author also discusses `collateral damage’.  Those would be the other people that get hurt during an attack on the clergy.  Their harm is real and also requires healing.  Clergy and those close to them needs to be attentive to self-care before the disaster so they have the energy and strength to function in general and especially when under attack.

The book ends with two good chapters that focus on health – how clergy can build up their own health and how congregations can make themselves healthy.

The author is coming from the Protestant tradition, as is this reviewer.  However, this is not a “Christian” or “Protestant” book.  I do not recall him quoting a single Bible verse.  He avoids bringing denominational distinctives into his discussion.  I think the book would also be valuable to religious leaders in the Roman Catholic, Eastern orthodox, Jewish, and Muslim traditions.  I am certain the Protestant community has not cornered the market on attracting people who try to destroy our leaders.”

Other thoughts:

Mr. Rediger has an even-handed discussion.  He cautions us repeatedly of the dangers of labeling someone.  Those dangers make it very important to correctly analyze a conflict situation.  In addition to the damage from hurtfully mislabeling someone, a misdiagnosis means the situation will be handled wrong and therefore the situation won’t get resolved.

He addresses the issue of killer clergy in one chapter to acknowledge the existence of a completely different tragedy in the church so we can keep our eye for it as well.  Should you encounter that trouble, a different book will be needed.

2 Responses to “Clergy Killer” – people who destroy pastors

  1. The existence of “clergy killers” makes it important for congregations to ensure that their clergy have access to a support organization, both within the congregation itself and outside of the congregation. Regarding the former, some person or group of persons within the congregation should have the specific charge of caring for the needs of the clergy (and other staff). Regarding the latter, support can come from the denomination itself, or alternatively from local inter-denominational groups of clergy.

  2. Jim Ulvog says:

    Thanks for your comment.

    Mr. Rediger points out that denomination offices are often unable to assist because of the political pressures they bear (need to read a few pages to see the reasons). The board of trustees or elders should be guarding their clergy, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. It should. Astute trustees/directors/elders will see to it.

    Most important protection is self-care. Clergy need to develop their own support structure for thier own long-term health, not just to survive the rare clergy killer but to thrive in the day-to-day demands of their Holy calling.

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