Shame and Spiritual Abuse
Last week I had a consulting gig at a church that had a recovery ministry blow up in grand fashion. Lack of leadership accountability, no small doses of codependency and maybe, perhaps, possibly a tiny bit of grandiose thinking and arrogance on the part of the church team that swooped in to clean up the debacle — all of this was stymying the work of restoration. And I haven’t even gotten to the part of what actually went down within the recovery ministry that caused the crash and burn!
As I sat around the table listening to the various perspectives represented – the church staff, the recovery ministry team, the church’s human resources department and its legal team, man, I just wanted a good cup of coffee and some headphones. It was brutal. Mostly the conversation focused on the religious beliefs of the congregation that they felt the recovery ministry leadership had disrespected. They were mad. While all this conversation swirled, the lead pastor, sitting on my left played on his ipad. I was a bit envious and wished I too could pull up my solitaire game. Sometimes it is hard to stay present for suffering.
As the contention gathered steam I felt like I had acquired an invisibility cloak and was stuck in the middle of a family drama. Folks forgot that they were there to share their story with my team; they were too busy picking each other off with their verbal long rifles. I opened up my bible and reminded myself of another time when a church had to deal with sexual immorality…
Everyone has heard that there is sexual immorality among you. This is a type of immorality that isn’t even heard of among the Gentiles – a man is having sex with his father’s wife! And you’re proud of yourselves instead of being so upset that the one who did this thing is expelled from your community.
1 Corinthians 5:1-2
Let’s talk banishment. To be continued….