Recognizing dysfunctional people who are trying to disrupt your congregation is the first step in healing the hurt.
Peter Chin describes how insulated members of a small group or close-nit bunch of friends learn How to Destroy Your Pastor.
Sometimes it is necessary for a pastor to move on when the pastor isn’t ready to do so. However, and this is a hugely critical however, such a decision must be a corporate decision, not just the opinion of a small group of people who have decided they don’t like the pastor.
I have experiential knowledge of being part of the resistance standing up to a gaggle of people who decided they wanted to drive off a pastor.
Peter Chin describes the dynamics in which a small group can become insular, which creates an echo chamber. The lack of outside feedback reinforces growing misperceptions or biases.
He introduces the phrases social cohesion and group polarization. Check out the article for a good, brief explanation.
He suggests several low-key ways to resist the biased perceptions. Essentially just lovingly and gently disagree when snide or rude comments are made.
That is a start. I hope you will find it works.
If not, you may have to take a far firmer stand again those who wish to drive away your pastor.
In a related discussion, Tom Rainer has a superb pair of blog posts.
3/30 – Thom Rainer – Nine Traits of Church Bullies – He provides some tips on how to recognize bullies who push around congregations for their own agenda and personal enjoyment. A few that stand out to me:
2. They have personal and self-serving agendas. They have determined what “their” church should look like. Any person or ministry or program that is contrary to their perceived ideal church must be eliminated.
This is the strongest indicator to me. Bullies want to control the direction and programs of a church. The pastor, wider congregation, and elected leadership should not be the deciders in determining direction. The bullies want to run the church.
7.They are allowed to bully because church members will not stand up to them.
The most fascinating thing to me is that sometimes bullies will leave the church if there is actually someone, anyone, that stands up to them. Wish I understood the dynamic of a bully leaving the very first time after being confronted.
8.They create chaos and wreak havoc. A church bully always has his next mission.
The issue sometimes doesn’t even matter. The point of contention is often just a presenting issue. Resolve the immediate concern and something else may quickly take its place.
4/1 – Thom Rainer – Nine Ways to Deal with Church Bullies – Followup post has suggestions on how to resist and overcome bullies trying to tear down your church and destroy your pastor. Check out the full list. Here are a few I think are highlights:
4.Encourage members to speak and stand up to church bullies.
I have been amazed to see or hear of a long-time bully leaving the church within days of having been confronted for the first time ever. Wish I understood the dynamics of how that happens.
This may be the key point.
Unite leadership to stand up to the bullies. Failing that, perhaps one or two people taking a stand might be all it takes.
6.Be willing to exercise church discipline. Church discipline is a forgotten essential of many churches. Bullies need to know there are consequences for their actions, and church discipline may be one of them.
It would be exquisitely difficult to start using church discipline if a church doesn’t have the process in place. If a church is willing to do the hard work to follow what the bible says, I’ll bet bullies would leave for someplace they can easily have their way.
7.Have a healthy process to put the best-qualified persons in positions of leadership in the church. Bullies often are able to push around less qualified people who have found themselves in positions of leadership. There should be a spiritually and strategically designed process to choose and recruit people for key leadership positions.
A frequent weakness of local churches is a dysfunctional structure that is desperate for people to serve on the governing board. The criteria for recruiting is ‘who can we guilt into saying yes’ or ‘whose turn is it’ instead of ‘who has the skills we need to lead us well.’
That is a formula for bullies to thrive.
I previously discussed this topic in my March 2011 review of a book by G. Lloyd Rediger: “Clergy Killer” – people who destroy pastors. I continue to heartily recommend the book.