This article attempts to answer that question…
Some things that are not of God within churches
1. Shaming people in order to subdue them
2. Guilt trips from leadership to silence critics
3. Appointing oneself to a leadership position, and insisting that you have the final say
4. Leaders refusing to be accountable and transparent, but demanding that people trust them
5. A culture of secrecy
6. Double standards. Unspoken rules for the people. The leadership, however, are above the rules
7. Quote-mining from the Bible to support a church culture that serves the leadership’s interests
8. Only express disagreement with the leadership in private. No open forum allowed
9. Denying liberty of conscience and freedom of expression to people, or prescribing/condoning only very specific ways in which to express a different opinion or question the status quo
10. Smear campaigns against those who question the leadership, in order to turn people against them or earmark them as troublemakers
Does any of the above resemble the way in which Jesus behaves? NO.
This is one of the best “lists” I have seen on ways to identify spiritual abuse. Some people just tune out when they read things like “church enforces a dress code”, “leader insists on being called by a title” or things like that because the truth is, often spiritual abuse is way more subtle than that, and this list gives a nuanced insight into the dynamics at play in such situations. Mary De Muth hits a home run here.
Praise The Lord! This is great.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3: 17
“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, EVERYONE has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation, or something important to share. All of these MUST be done for the strengthening of the church.” 1 Corinthians 14: 26 paraphrase with added emphasis
Whenever your “church” gathers is your coming together open, free and Spirit led; or is everything you do predetermined by a Pastor or worship leader? Do you follow a set in stone liturgy or order of service or are you all free to flow in the Holy Spirit and share as the Spirit leads? I bring this up because the vast majority of “church” services are led and controlled by “men”. It is extremely rare to find…
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Here’s a list – by no means exhaustive – of man made traditions I have encountered!
– You should tithe 10% of your income to the church (do not give this money anywhere else, directly to the poor, etc. that doesn’t count)
– You should entrust the church with the stewardship of your money (don’t ask questions about how it is spent)
– You should inform the church of how much you tithe so the institution can issue a tax receipt to you.
– You should have your new babies “dedicated to God” in a special service
– You should attend weekly church services
– Spiritual teaching comes to us via a 45 minute monologue each Sunday. This is the most important spiritual part of the week.
– You are expected to celebrate the major holidays that the church recognizes – namely Easter and Christmas.
– Pastor is a profession and as such, they should get paid a market-related salary.
– Church buildings are necessary.
– Sunday School is extremely important and foundational to your child’s spiritual journey.
– You should never question authority or be disagreeable. If you do have a disagreement, do not under any circumstances, talk about it amongst other members. That is divisive. The only acceptable approach is to discuss it with church leadership.
– You should honor the pastor/preacher by being absolutely loyal and obedient.
– Your children should not be disruptive during the church service.
– You should partake of a wafer and sip of juice with the other members of your church to commemorate Jesus’ death and to symbolize the unity of the body of Christ
– You should not participate in the service (other than following instructions/or what everyone else does – sit, stand, clap, etc) unless expressly permitted/asked to do so by the leadership.
– You may exercise your spiritual gifts by volunteering in the prescribed ministries/programs that the church offers, and your cell group.
Does anyone wonder about this stuff? Or am I just being hypercritical, divisive and a general troublemaker? 😀