real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

symptoms of an abusive group

heavy yoke

During the past few months, my Sunday blog stats have shown that many people have arrived here after having done a search on the family integrated church model.  Since this seems to be a popular topic presented at homeschooling conventions, I am guessing that many of these visitors are looking for more information than they received the day before at a conference.

I also often receive e-mails from people asking specific questions after they have read the FIC articles and they express their concerns that they have stumbled into abusive church situations themselves.  Last week I had several of these inquiries and thought it might be helpful to share these remarks from a spiritual abuse website that contains lots of good information.

You also might want to listen to the series of podcasts I did a year ago with Dr. Cindy Kunsman and check out her blog for more information.

The following was based on Ken Blue’s book Healing Spiritual Abuse:

Are you still wondering if your church is showing symptoms of being an abusive group? Are you talking yourself out of leaving because your church may have virtues that seem to compensate for its possible abuses? You may not be able to see right now how being in a controlling, abusive system is affecting you, but it will damage the central core of who you are. And I can assure you it will affect your children at some point. To help you make a clear assessment, here is a review of the symptoms of an abusive religious group according to Jesus in Matthew 23:

1. Abusive leaders base their spiritual authority on their position or office rather than on their service to the group. Their style of leadership is authoritarian.

2. Leaders in abusive churches often say one thing but do another. Their words and deeds do not match.

3. They manipulate people by making them feel guilty for not measuring up spiritually. They lay heavy religious loads on people and make no effort to lift those loads. You know that you are in an abusive church if the loads just keep getting heavier.

4. Abusive leaders are preoccupied with looking good. They labor to keep up appearance. They stifle any criticism that puts them in a bad light.

5, They seek honorific titles and special privileges that elevate them above the group. They promote a class system with themselves at the top. They desire to be number one and they require everyone to refer to them as “Pastor” or “Dr.”

6. Their communication is not straight. their speech becomes especially vague and confusing when they are defending themselves.

7. They major on minor issues to the neglect of the truly important ones. They are conscientious about religious details but neglect God’s larger agendas.



  Jack Brooks wrote @

I have to challenge #1, ThatMom. The New Testament does teach that pastor, evangelist, elder or deacon, are examined-and- commissioned positions of authority. The role is vested with decision-making authority, just like fatherhood or the civil magistrate. The first point is posing an invalid conflict between role and service.

This is why no one should “lay hands hastily” on any man. The role to which one is commissioned is an authority role, and so an unqualified man can do a lot of damage.

  anika wrote @

I am confused at the challenge to #1… I don’t see how it challenges, it seems to making a seperate point all together…
Being in a place of authority, does not require “athoritarian” rule… We can lead as servants, and guide with wisdom and grace…
Jesus did, it simply was his example…
I don’t write this to be rude, I merely do not understand the comment… 🙂 peace and love to you,
great post ThatMom

  thenonconformer wrote @

I TOO still would rightfully rather see pastor first live a sermon instead of too often now merely preach it to others and I really do think it is so farcical how some sinfully, proud evangelical pastors are ready to condemn others, to gossip about, to now preach about the other person’s sins but someone how they can’t seem to deal with their own false abuse of others, their own sins, and their own false pride..

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