Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Splits, Splinters and Slivers Business Model...

Nine Traits of Mean Churches
Thom S. Rainer
Growing Healthy Churches Together

“My church is a mean church!”
I received two emails this week from church members who made that very statement. The members are from two different churches in two different states. One of the churches belongs to a denomination; the other is non-denominational. In both cases the church members made the decision to drop out of local church life altogether.
Yes, I tried to reason with the two members. I told them that no church is perfect. If they had any doubt, I wrote, look at the two letters the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. I failed in convincing them to stay in their churches. I pray they will become active in other churches later.
I love local churches. But I have to admit, I am hearing more from long-term members who are quitting church life completely. One member wrote me, “The non-Christians I associate with are much nicer people than the members of my church.”
Ouch. That really hurt.
So, after receiving the second email, I began to assimilate all the information I could find where church members had written me about their “mean” churches. They may not have used the word “mean” specifically, but the intent was the same. I then collected characteristics of these churches, and I found nine that were common. I call these the “nine traits of mean churches.”
  1. Too many decisions are made in the cloak of darkness. Only a select few members really know what’s going on. The attitude of those elitists is that the typical member doesn’t really need to know.
  2. The pastor and/or staff are treated poorly. Decisions are made about them without a fair process. Complaints are often numerous and veiled. Many of these churches are known for firing pastors and/or staff with little apparent cause.
  3. Power groups tenaciously hold on to their power. The power group may be a formal group such as a committee, elders, or deacons. But the group can also be informal—no official role but great informal authority. Power groups avoid and detest accountability, which leads to the next point.
  4. There is lack of clear accountability for major decisions and/or expenditures. The church has no clear system in place to make certain that a few outlier members cannot accumulate great power and authority.
  5. Leaders of the power groups have an acrimonious spirit. Though they may make first impressions of kindness and gentleness, the mean streak emerges if you try to cross them.
  6. A number of the members see those outside of the church as “them” or “those people.” Thus the church is at odds with many in the community instead of embracing them with the love of Christ.
  7. Many members have an inward focus; they view the church as a place to get their own preferences and wants fulfilled. They are the opposite of the description of church members in 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul describes them as functioning members for the greater good of the body of Christ.
  8. Many people in the community view these churches negatively. Those on the outside often refer to these churches as “fighting and firing churches.” The community members detect no love for them from these churches.
  9. Most of the members are silent when power plays and bad decisions take place.They don’t want to stand up to the power group. They are afraid to ask questions. Their silence allows the power abuses to continue.
Are mean churches really increasing in number? My anecdotal information would indicate they are.


Anonymous said...

If you understand that "all" churches are nothing but human institutions you will understand why there is so much disfunction in churches both in the mainstream and fringe groups. Any church leader who says that his church is specially blessed by God is either misguided or is not being truthful. Being on the outside looking in I can quit clearly see that God is not in any of the churches. They are nothing but institutions started and run by men.

Sweetblood777 said...

What a jerk. He needs to be put in his place with a good kick in the ass.

James said...

Profits before people. Typical of a corporation.

Byker Bob said...

After having watched the video, I Googled "Jim Standridge" to see if I could learn more about this preacher, and the particular episode. The event took place at a Baptist church in Oklahoma. The video has gone viral, and there is abundant commentary from both lay members of churches, and members of the clergy on the internet, oddly enough some pro, and also, as we might anticipate, con.

My personal opinion is that here we have a religious bully, who is able to get away with this travesty, like so many other "wolves", because he exploits Christian people's willingness to do anything to please God, and their subsequent pliability at the hands of those whom they regard as leaders. He violates the delicate balance, as well as the sense of unquestioning trust, that such member attitudes bestow upon spiritual guides. Why do his congregants allow him to do this? Obviously (from information provided in his own remarks) there is a sense of community present, one that ties his church members' entire social lives to one another, and to their pastor. Anyone who would stand up to this bully, would most likely be cut off from friends and family.

While not focussing in on an ACOG, or an ACOG leader, (this time), we can witness in a neutral manner some of the attitudes and dynamics which we know take place within our own former community. and frankly, probably many of us have witnessed much worse than this!

As I stated earlier, this video has gone viral. It has been seen by numbers of people that Armstrongish clergy could only dream about. In spite of these numbers, I had never heard of Jim Standridge, and when I saw the video, I received a very negative impression of him, and of his church. The lesson for the ACOGs is that even if you do manage to go viral with your negative message, the sheer popularity of your video does not mean that massive numbers of new recruits will be signing on. But, surely, they must already know this from their own experinces, although they wonder why.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds like LCG!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe he gets up in front of everyonea and singles people out and slams them, and then tells them he loves them, the guy doesn't know what love is. First of all if he had a problem with someone, knew his bible and truely loved them he would have went to the person alone and talked it over, not criticize, slam and embarass them in front of everyone. The little rant just seemed it was all about him.

Anonymous said...

And sounds like UCG.

Anonymous said...

He says in the video 'submit to me.' This is the doctrine of the Nicolaitan. By submit, he really means dominate. So he, like most ministers in the slivers, don't agree with God, and give themselves this perk. Oh yes, they also give themselves the perk of character assassinating members, tearing them down, twisting their minds, lying through their teeth etc etc. After all, Gods laws are soooo impractical. It's Satans way that really works. Besides, it's all in the name of love, unity, doing the work etc, so God understands.

DennisCDiehl said...

I'd say the guy in the video booth got his revenge videoing this rant at him. Lol

James said...

The people of a country are a reflection of their government.
Here in the US it is cruelty, dominance, and personal destruction.

No wonder churches are dying out. They practice Stalinism instead following the teachings of the Christ.

Anonymous said...

This preacher is no different to some arrogant relatives of mine. They talk down to people, treating others as if they have no rights. They never explain Gods laws, since it makes people more independent and free from their control.