Ok … here’s the thing. We’ve covered a lot of this ground over the years but I cannot remember a generic post dealing with the obvious signs of spiritual abuse in a church. We’ve tended to go for the jugular over specific church movements such as Hillsong and C3. We’ve gone after particular doctrines such as tithing.
What we haven’t done is look at the signs a church is becoming spiritually abusive and cult-like.
There are many hurting and confused believers out there who may well question their faith or even their sanity after one of the most terrible abuses of trust that there can be. There are many more people still stuck in situations that perhaps need a little more encouragement to stick with Jesus, even if that means leaving an abusive church situation.
So here goes …
Signs of Spiritual Abuse:
- This is a special church … all the other churches are dead churches.
- leavers MUST be shunned … they have gone over to the devil and are enemies (particularly husbands/wives/parents/children)
- touch NOT the Lord’s anointed … The Pastor speaks for God and must never be criticised.
- Tithing is mandatory. (Tithing is not a sign per se, only if it is mandatory)
- Special Rules … such as “Women must wear a head covering”
- You must attend every meeting … especially Sundays, otherwise you aren’t showing enough commitment.
- You must OBEY everything you are told to do by the Leader and be completely submitted to them.
- You are also to be submitted to your cell/house group leaders
- You MUST confess all your sins to your leaders … to move on.
- You must run all major life decisions (change job/house/get married) must be approved by your leader … or else.
- A lack of oversight of your Pastor … a lack of accountability.
There are many churches that are completely independent … however, if the leader has to be re-appointed by the membership every few years and if there is a plurality of leadership as well then this is fairly safe.
If the leader has no way of losing his/her position then that could lead to abuse of position and power.
I know that there are many stories out there and if people have the courage then please share your life stories here. I know a few people now that I am actively praying for. Jesus didn’t come to place upon us a heavy burden. His yoke is light. He is gentle, loving and kind. He is not oppressive. He didn’t come to place us under rules and regulations. He came to get us into a relationship with the Father.