Inside a Dysfunctional Church

A friend of ours who has had a couple brutal experiences as a church staffer has this blog which allows him to talk about what he went through and how he is recovering. Part of his latest post says:

With Church, the myth is also the ideal. I always had this ideal that what I was supposed to do was to highlight Christ in worship. I always, even until the end perceived that as my job, even though the majority of that job was trying to micromanage all of these politically driven moving parts, knowing that the breathing wrong can potentially create chaos.

At least with this church, the ideal of cultivating spiritual growth, at least trying to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, was kind of a myth. If you took the word “church” out and put “country club” in its place, we’d be on to something.

With these thoughts in mind, identifying toxic patterns of my own, and kind of getting this sensation of sinking, I went through all of my Outlook folders with work-related emails from the churches I’ve worked at, and I deleted them all.

My observation is that people who do well in church leadership (or staff positions) are people who are unquestioningly loyal. Loyalty to a person or people becomes the highest virtue, and that person is quite often not Jesus.

In one sense, church is probably no more or less dysfunctional than many human occupations, but the problem is that our expectations of church are vastly different. And we have to spiritualize church jobs, so a pastor can’t come out and say, “I am taking a new job because it pays better and is more stable.” He has to say something about calling, struggle, being released from his current call, and so on. In other words, normality goes out the window. In our friend’s case, he put up with a lot of garbage that would make many of us look for a new job, but since it is church, there is added pressure to stay the course because it is thought of as a calling.

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