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mans-face-in-shadows-1-by-xymonau-no-r Bullying.

Never a pleasant word. We’re used to hearing it talked about at schools, although not so much at church.

But as I process wounds we sustained from my parents’ former church leaders, and after finding this article at Christianity.ca, I realize we may have lived through a bullying experience.

We had no voice about my parents’ treatment by their congregation. When we asked questions about it, it was made clear–with silence from some, and with unsympathetic and angry words from others–that our questions were not welcome.

The Christianity.ca article explains:

In churches, bullying is often more subtle—church bullies use their power to intimidate people, to close off discussion and to force group decisions to their liking…

“All this has the effect of silencing and disempowering people,” …the problem is compounded because Christians believe they must “turn the other cheek” or give in to make peace in the congregation.

“We feel powerless to stop the bullying, or to confront the bully because we feel that we should respond to violence with kindness,” says Miller…”

This is exactly the inner conflict we’ve been feeling, and why it takes so much courage to speak out about what is clearly wrong. It’s even hard for me to write about these things here on my blog, where readers could assume I’m “unforgiving”, “bitter” or “condemning”.

Pastors, Sunday school teachers and Bible school profs don’t often teach how to handle church bullying, let alone that it exists. It’s no wonder we’re confused when it happens to us:

How do we respond? What if we anger people by speaking out? We don’t want to be accused of stirring up conflict. We don’t want to rock the boat, right? Shouldn’t we just “live and let live”…?

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  • ian docker

    Bullies and those who have a history of harrassing and intimidating other people have little or no concept of self awareness. With regards to the stifling of ministry and mission, its not the Richard Dawkins of this world that the church need concern itself with, but rather those within the church who fail to examine and take issues with thier, fears, insecurity, pride, selfishness,greed,and values. Such people no doubt have a shallow prayer and meditation life.

  • http://www.ChurchExiters.com Barb Orlowski

    Glad to see that you are addressing the topic of spiritual abuse and bullying. It is harmful and disheartening to experience in a church.

    You might be interested in my research on this topic. My book is: Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness.

    My website is: http://www.ChurchExiters.com

    Drop in for a visit and say Hi.

    You might also find this abuse resource website helpful as well: http://www.AbuseResourceNetwork.com

    All the best!

    • http://CameronEBrooks.com Cameron E. Brooks

      Thank you for passing along the resources, Barb!

  • Lucy

    I think we have the ultimate abusive pastor at our Catholic church – Catholic and has affairs with women behind the parishioner’s back. The latest one is a German older woman. He acts like he is above the Catholic church and God because he gets away with it. Does anyone know where to report this?

  • Scott

    There seems to be a lack of true Christianity today. there is a lot of American churchianity today. All to often We fall into cliques and social elitism by the following categories:
    How much money a person gives.
    A person holding a certain job or profession.
    A person who has a church position such as Pastor, Elder, Deacon or whatever. Also we tend to look at teens through the false lens of what sport teams are they on or are they on some committee at school such as student government.
    We tend to ignore or denigrate those who do not have/wear the “proper church attire” such as the Goth, the Geek, those who cannot afford such things and others.
    And what about those not “raised in the church” this was My case. In My first church I was not allowed to serve or be a part of anything because My parents were not members of any church.
    If we are to follow Jesus We must truly follow and give others the opportunity to do the same. One of our “Heart attitudes” at church is to put the needs of others before our own. this has helped us to avoid many of the bad situations people have encountered here.

    • Selah

      Thank you all so much for sharing these things! I thought I was alone in my experiences, but I see it is a common occurrence in the church.
      During the last 17 years I have had the joy of serving our Lord Jesus in various churches. I am blond, blue eyed and have a 4 octave range and that has angered many women and some men as I have used my voice and my experience to bring Praise to God. Oh but the number of jealous individuals is so small in comparison to the number of children, teens, young and old that I have had the honor of sharing the gospel with through singing, teaching, ministering and fellowshipping.
      As a youth choir director I just had the joy of seeing the youth choir I started go from not being able to sing row row row your boat to placing 4th in the state fine arts competition and receive top honors at nationals, all the while having the joy of sharing the love of Jesus with them.
      It hasn’t been easy. When the choir was small and starting out, nobody took notice. But now, with over 45 and ringing the bell in worship, the jealous have come out of the woodwork. From the jealous Mom whose daughter wants the solos to the woman on the worship team who wishes she had thought of doing a youth choir ( but was not called) to the music Pastor who wants to have his hand in it whose legalistic ways make the kids feel worthless. There are more but why go on. Point is, if there had not been the anointing, if there was no success the bullies would have stayed put. But the devil works quite well through people and we all know it probably stirs him up to see 45 teens who never sang in a church choir bring a congregation of 2000 to their feet in worship to Jesus. Yes the enemy gets stirred up but our God is greater our God is stronger Lord you are higher than any other!,, so for that I will stay where God first called me…until He says it’s ok to go I will be the change I want to see in the church!

  • Emma

    I can really relate to these experiences.

    After my pastor’s abuse, he just walked away because he has been doing it to people for so many years that he feels ok doing this.
    He feels he can get away with anything and continues to abuse, and cater the church to his friends and family.
    The only thing he fears: his own reputation and if people talk about him, that is all an abusive pastor cares about, not what he has done to you.

    The truth is everyone talks about this well-known abuser in our community. He is so out of control he does not even realise how bad a person he has become or is known to be.

    So I have learned the best thing to do is speak up people: tell people about those who have hurt you on purpose and walked away, and abusive pastors – because they only care when it affects them, not you. This is the only way to deal with those who openly bully & hurt and don’t make things better. They don’t apologise because they are not Christian anyway, so don’t wait for apologies. Don’t be silent.

  • Lisa

    “What’s sad is when the pastor is the bully and feels threatened by a worship team member. I just refused to take it anymore. I tried to confront the problem but when you try to confront a bully, they make you look like the problem.”

    “This is what I am dealing with right now. I tried to stand up for myself and make peace at the same time, but my peacemaking efforts were taken as disrespectful and trying to stir up strife. It is REALLY hard because what do you say? ”

    The above comments descibe my situation exactly! As the worship leader in my local church, I stood up against a practice that was occuring during the prasie and worship portion of our Sunday morning service. Our Pastor was continually allowing people with personal agendas to speak freely from the pulpit. Personal testimony, contrition, and confession had turned into a certain few who repeatedly went to the pulpit week after week and “Bullied” others. When I took a stand, my husband and I were told that we were undermining his authority and we were to either submit or leave the church. We quietly left. Now our silence is being filled with lies and inuendo.

    I know the Lord is our vindicator, but we are devestated. One of my biggest struggles is with the fact of our loyalty being questioned by our leader. We had been faithful to the ministry and our pastor since day one. We walked very close to them and endured our share of hurts as a result of walking close. In going through this, we are experiencing a lot of hurt, fear, trust and maybe some forgiveness issues. I trust and believe that God will surround us in his peace and love, however- WE ARE HURTING.

    An apology from the church and from my former pastor would do wonders. I’m not even asking that they admit any wrong-doing, but an acknowledgement that they are sorry all of this happened and that they are sorry we have been wounded so deeply would help…

    • Selah

      I will pray for you, I know it really does hurt.

  • Mitzi

    I most likely will never regularly attend a church again. I’ve been so wounded there I can’t recover. I love Jesus but people who profess to love Him can sure be cold and cruel. No thanks, I’ll just worship Him in secret. His grace is sufficient for me.

  • Ashlyn

    I recently turned 21, I have to church all my life and went to Christian schools. Right now I am a senior at a Christian university, and let me tell you, it has been no walk in the park. Reading yall’s postings have been so sad. I am so sorry that you have been hurt by the church, all of you. I too, ever since the second grade, have been picked on by those in leadership in a Christian school. In high school, I was bullied at a church as well. I went to the youth group and there was a guy that was my age and we would talk to each other when we saw each other at church. We never met up outside of church. Well two women, who are married, at that time 36 yrs. old, had children of their own, was crushing on this young guy who was 19. He and I would talk to each other but these two women couldn’t stand the fact that I was around him. To them, I was taking their “man”, To make a long story short, they told the youth pastor that there was inappropriate relationship between this guy and me that I needed to be dealt with. The youth pastor called my parents and forbid me to hang or talk to this guy “because he is called into the ministry”. I was not allowed to talk to any male leaders, let alone this 19 yr old. Then, these women spread false rumors about my parents and me in the church to the point when we walked into the sanctuary, people were quiet and would not acknowledge us. My parents, who were leaders, addressed the women spreading the lies and talked to the associate pastor but nothing was done because they were all friends. With no resolution, my parents stepped down from their position and we decided to leave the church. People were believing the lies of these 2 insecure, pathetic, cougar women because they were best friends with the pastor’s wife. When we left the church, my parents received an email from the pastor’s wife asking why we left. When my mom replied, she stated that her (the pastor’s wife) friends were spreading vicious lies about me, the youth pastor banned me from talking to men, banned me from coming to the youth group, and that the one woman accused me of hitting her children…all these accusations were completely false. The pastor’s wife replied and said that we are liars, we bear false witness, and made false accusations. The pastor’s wife is a sister to a well known pastor across the world. When I see her brother-in-law on TV, I can’t help but think of her and how she mistreated us. I have forgiven her and all those who hurt me in the church. I have moved on but it doesn’t mean that I don’t remember what happened from time to time.
    The thing is, where is the spirit of discernment? I think that is what is fully lacking in the Christian environment these days, the spirit of truth. The Christian university I go to, similar incident occurred. A situation I had with my roommate was something that was not in my control. My roommate at the time had issues, she was psychotic, and unstable. I wanted to leave the room, but where I go to school you have to “petition” to switch rooms. When I “petitioned” I had to plead my case with the Dean of Women. Telling her the events that occurred, she didn’t believe me and she said that she would have to do an investigation…if I was lying she would document it in my permanent file. Here is what I would like to ask people, do you seriously think i sit around coming up with lies? I don’t think so! I have been raised in a Christian home, love God very much, why would I do that?
    There are many more incidents, but reading yall’s blogs has given me an idea for senior paper. Bullying is a prominent issue here in America and I believe the church needs to be a safe haven where victims can come to if they have no where to go, no where to turn. However, how can the church be there for the victims when they have made victims of their own? It is sad. This is not what God intended. The church is to be a reflection of His heart. I know we are all human, but it is time for the church to step up, take accountability for their action. It is time we become the church God called us to be. It is time for us stand up to the bullies. It is time for the pastors to take the “bull by the horns” so to speak and address the bullies in their church…they don’t need people in their congregation who is going to bring division. I don’t know about you all but this has inspired me to speak up, not to give up, and call it like it is. Each and every one of you are victorious, you are a King’s kid, you are worthy, you are precious, you are valuable…don’t let others say otherwise that you are not any of those things. Speak up! We need more people to speak up and who knows, maybe all it will take is your voice to bring change:)

  • lynette

    I’m going thow this very thing, it like it jumps from one person to tthe next as soon as I get one person off my back some one new starts in on me, I’ve never been one for conflict, and I don’t know how to get them to stop, Every time I think about going to a new church I feel like I’m going to face the same problem.

  • Josephine

    I am so sorry for anyone who has experienced bullying in the church because I know what it’s like. Unfortunately some people use the church to behave in ways that would not be permitted anywhere else, seemingly capitalizing on the obligation for others to forgive them. It makes a mockery of what Jesus did on the cross. We are meant to love one another, to show unity to the world. I;m not talking about the inadvertant mistakes that we all make, that require simple apologies which most mature adults are able to give. I’m talking about people with extreme ego problems who love power plays, putdowns and competition within the church. It’s the very opposite of the servanthood that Christ desires. Unfortunately these people often have a sense of ownership of a particular church,may have been there for many years, are in positions of “leadership” and may have contributed a lot of money to the church, so sometimes others feel obligated to pander to them. I have been the target of one such person in my church and two years later, still suffer from the hurt they caused. I think churches should rotate ministry leaders more often; emphasize servanthood rather than leadership;have a mediation process in place and not be afraid to use it when disputes happen and start blaming the perpetrators rather than their targets. Above all, churches should depend upon God for his leading and annointing, which He alone gives. It’s His church and those of us who truly love Him are His followers.

    • Sandra

      Josephine so very well said. Churches need to be cleaned up and stop causing hurt and pain and bullying. It is criminal to cause hurt and pain to God’s people like this. Whoever in the Church goes along with this and turns a blind eye or does nothing is just as guilty of bullying. Clergy think God is not watching them. All the pain they are putting on us is not going un-noticed by God.

      • alma

        you are so right. in the cultural world a lot of the nonsense that the good church folks have to endure to be a blessing and a difference is unheard of . that is one reason for over three years i go to church but not committed like i used to. the punishment and nonsense i went in that church even my worse enemy that wanted to know about christ would have been surprise and turn away from christianity.. no wonder the world is making more of a difference due to the the authenticity of the world compare to the hypocrisy and coldness of so called christians folks. they live one day as christians and t he rest of the time they are acting the same as t he non christians. however, in all this mess i am always hoping that God will lead me to a church i can offer my skill and not so much my money as i feel that the first thing they want to program you as thinking to do at first and if you don’t God bless you. Lord, knows that the world needs more compassion and difference of authenticity of christ.

  • Rob Tilley

    Sadly I have been bullied at church for the last six years, it is motivated by jealousy from another choir member who has also teased and bullied me regarding my personal life and intially pretended to be a friend so that they could find out personal things about me. The person has attempted to distract me whilst I have been singing solos, riddiculed my efforts in the choir generally and when I have confronted him, he has done the usual bully thing and gone to the clergy and said I am the bully. The scarry thing is he wants to be a priest. I will not give up on my ministry for him, I am not the best singer in the world but I try and work hard to be a good team member in the choir.

  • http://spiritualabusesanctuary.wordpress.com Scarlett

    How sad…the stories of bullying and spiritual abuse go on and on and on. I have thought and prayed about this issue many times, and have come to the conclusion that the root of the problem has to lay in the thing that Jesus said he hated, “The Doctriines and Deeds of the Nicolaitans”, in the book of Revelation. http://solidrockspeople.org/deedsnicolaitanes.htm. Long story short, where the “clergy”, (pastors, preachers, teachers, elders, and others in leadership roles), lord it over the “laity”, (sheep) in the household of God. How does Jesus regard that, when he told his disciples to be servants, not overlords like the gentiles?

    The doctrine and deeds of the Nicolaitans began manifesting early on in the Body of Christ, and was “perfected”, so to speak in the Roman Catholic church. However, even after the Reformation, this practice has continued in churches across the West, and in the United States to this very day. I would say that nearly 100% of the organized church operates under the Nicolaitan system, and as a result has become apostate as a result. Apostasy has been described in scripture as the “falling away”. Falling away from what?….Fallen away from the True Church, the called out ones, The Body of Christ, who’s head is supposed to be Jesus. The Church that was set up in the Book of Acts, after Pentecost, with the congregation taking part in the assembly under the five fold ministry.
    When something, in this case, the church, has established itself under a false leadership, instead of having Christ as it’s HEAD, abberations such as spiritual abuse, bullying, power grabbiing, assuming preeimmence, an “Absolam spirit”, fear, control and manipulation, and all other manner of heritical practices eventually manifest and spoil true worship in the household of God. These things should not be.

    What can be done, “if the foundation be destroyed”. After doing much prayer and study, I’ve personally come to the conclusion that the “apostate, fallen away, Nicolaitan churches”, cannot be reformed by personal effort, they can only be abandoned.

    Jesus Himself, eventually pulled me out of the fire of these churches, (after teaching me the pitfalls through experiencing it for myself). I am further convinced that the admonition, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” was and is, Jesus warning that this leaven exists in churches everywhere, and indeed, we should be aware of it and avoid it, “lest we be partakers of their sins…and their plagues”. By remaining in such places, we only tend to prop them up and “legitimize” them by our presence. Those who become accomplices, by trying to stay in the system and correct it, even by enduring spiritual abuse and bullying, do so at thei own peril.

    I was very saddened when reading this article and these comments. And decided to post this including the link, (with enc. comments), to my blog,
    http://spiritualabusesanctuary.wordpress.com/

    I pray many who have experienced spiritual abuse, or are presently in the throes of spiritual abuse or bullying, will be blessed, encouraged, and healed. As we come together, as a sort of corporate group, I believe it’s extremely healing and supportive.

    God bless, and strengthen all who come here in your body,soul and spirit to do His will, and continue to serve Him, and never give up.

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  • Anon

    Reading these stories are so sad…sad for those hurt and sad that as members of the body of Christ we do this to each other. It seems that most churches seem to have these bullies – in my case a handful of women who pretty much ran the church, were “respected” for their level of involvement and yet they were really the most pharisaic, judgemental, and unloving women who were so in tune with everybody elses sins except their own. I know that they spent alot of time together and gossiped (sorry shared for the sake of prayer) about everyone. For so long I took their snide little comments about all sorts of things, but when my father was dying with cancer (and he lived 3 hrs away and no other family support), my daughter was newly diagnosed with diabetes and in and out of hospital, my son was in the midst of a court case and going bankrupt, and my husband was suffering from depression as he had just lost his brother to cancer, and we were both struggling to hold jobs and look after eldery parents with no other family support….I would have expected a little more love. But no, these women made a concerted team effort to ‘encourage me’ to help out more at church. I was told off when I said I couldnt committ to picking up an older woman (who was quite capable of getting herself there), told off when one of the womans husbands had a birthday and they wanted a special moring tea for him…as it was fathers day I wanted to be with my father on his last one and my husband purchased several cakes etc from supermarket for morning tea…not good enough! (there were lots of other incidents ..but wont go into here) Pretty soon their gossip and ‘my ungodliness’ made me pretty much ostracised as these women held power! !
    I read in another bullying site that these people tend to pick on those who are vulnerable – that really was me at that time and it makes them feel powerful – which I can also see as they are pretty average people on their own really, however they had this power when together…much like teenage girls in the schoolyard.
    I am learning to forgive these people slowly, still battle being involved in my new church, as I dont trust now, and have lost confidence, always wondering if I somehow did something wrong…however I have learned both in church and the workplace that I dont have to be everybodies friend and if I dont like someone, Christ doesnt expect me to be their friend either. Doesnt really help those who are dealing with bullies, but this life and our relationships will never be perfect ..not until we meet our Lord.

    • Nirmala Prasad

      To anon,

      First of all let me tell you that you and your family members are in my prayers. you are a dear woman who’s just gone through or still going through some rough patches in life like loved ones being sick and you and your husband trying to care for them and all the other things that generally depresses people. These kind of things would drain out our energy and leave us very much stressed out. I have personally gone through some difficult times and I know how you are feeling right now. On top of all of this you have to put up with these ladies is too much to handle. I pray and hope that these ladies will stop bothering you and instead will be nice to you and help you. Simply trust in God and leave everything to Him. God bless you.

  • Kathy Veum-Sorrow

    It says right in the bible that if there is a confrontation with anyone in the church that you are to go to the elders of the church or the pastor. I wouldn’t stop going here, you have just as much right to going to this church as they do. It doesn’t matter if they have been going there longer, you all are going there for hopefully just one reason, to hear the word of the Lord. It is sad, but there are a lot of hypercritics in the church, and it is why some people won’t go to church because of that and the clicks they have there just like high school. Good luck though and know that the pastor will be glad that you brought it to his attention because he wants people coming to his church, not having new people leaving because of a couple of people who for some reason are taking their problems out on you. God Bless

    • Nirmala Prasad

      To Kathy, thank you for your reply and advice. I did take the matter to a couple (church elders) and I think that either they had spoken to her or to the pastor. Things are much better now. And we are continuing to go to this church because of this supreme reason that we are going there to listen to God’s word and to worship Him. I do agree with you that many people stay away from church or stop going to one because of things like this. But then that causes further division in church. As christians we are expected to unite with other fellow christians and not the other way round.Thank you again for your valuable advice. God Bless you too.

  • Nirmala Prasad

    We are new to this church and to this town. We were looking for a church where we would feel comfortable to worship God and we stumbled on this church. We walked in and we liked it and we were happy that God showed us the right kind of church to worship Him without having to worry about anything. The first week some ladies spoke to us and welcomed us and everything was going good for sometime. But recently I started avoiding two ladies in particular because I felt they avoided me and I had some other reasons also for doing so. I wanted to confront and talk to them about whatever was causing me to avoid them and some other issues that were related. But I thought since I am new I may not be understood properly and decided to give it some more time or ignore the issue altogether. But they called me aside 2 days back and started accusing me and started shouting at me. It was happening right outside the church door where people were constantly coming in for a scheduled bible study. None of them bothered to stop and know what was happening. they were all going in with their heads hung low and avoiding us. I was not given a chance to express or explain myself. all I could do was repeat these words. like, ‘I could say the same things about you’ or ‘Give me time and when I am ready I will tell you and in the meantime look into yourselves’. but one lady just wouldn’t let me go. They literally blocked my way and said all they wanted to say, and in the end said they forgive me and left. Oh yes, before she left she gave me a hug and at that point I felt so violated of my rights to be an equal church member but was too numb to say anything. They behaved just like elementary school bullies. My 18 year old son who heard all this commotion came out and asked what was happening. They shouted at him also. Now I don’t know if I should take this matter to the notice of the pastor (who is struggling and working hard to keep them altogether) and upset him or quietly leave this church and go somewhere else to worship. It’s a small community church and I am a minority member. I don’t want to cause problems or politics of any kind. And I can’t pretend also as if nothing happened. Please pray and advice.

    • Robin

      My own situation is much like yours, which prompts me to respond to you.
      I have waited for my husband to be on the same page with me and want to leave this dysfunctional church we have been part of, and just recently after two years I have decided I cannot continue to ‘try’ out of a misguided sense of loyalty to stay at this church. Starting over is difficult, but I encourage you to find a group of believers who will build you up. Gods Word say we are to restore one another in love, it does not sound to me like that is happening at this church you were so rudely reprimanded by these women. I suspect talking to the pastor, whose probably married to one of the womens ministry leaders, would not remedy the situation but bring further drama for you. I am so sorry you are having to go through this as it does not reflect the heart of God toward you- a heart of compassion and grace.

      • Nirmala Prasad

        Thank you so much Robin, for taking time to read and reply. 2 days back we were just walking on the side of the road and someone stopped us at random and invited us to their church. She said her husband is the pastor and they have a burden to reach out to people in India and they are welcoming new people into the church he is pastoring. She saw the cross I was wearing on my chain and guessed that I must be a christian. She’s an Australian married to an Indian. But the next day day was a sunday and myself and 2 of our sons ages 18 and 23 just finished our 6 weeks preparation (rehearsal) and were supposed to sing with the team the next morning. We didn’t have the heart to walk out from this church to the other church at this point even though we felt
        tempted to go this other church. So we went to our usual church and worshipped. To my amazement this lady who had hurt me the most by shouting, smiled at me with her facial
        features softened and I smiled back forgiving her in my heart. I had also shared my hurt with a couple whom I trusted as church elders and they must have done their part of talking to her. Probably that’s why she smiled trying to signal peace. Anyway I am at peace now and it won’t hurt to go to this other church sometimes because the reason we go to any church for that matter is to worship our saviour God with
        other believers. Hope everything works for the glory of our God and we continue to experience peace no matter what others say or do. Thanks for your sincere sharing and advice.With prayers.

  • Robin

    To ‘someone’~

    Who said…
    “But really it comes down to this:
    Proverbs 26:4-5
    New King James Version (NKJV)

    4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    Lest you also be like him.
    5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
    Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

    I’m pressing onward and shutting the door. Even if it does make ME look like I’m not “willing to make peace” :-/”

    * * *
    I had to thank you for posting this. I was invloved in a church bullying incident a few years ago and I have known in my gut it was best to walk away, even though I was pressured with Matthew 18 expectation of face to face confrontation in front of the church leaders. Thank you so much for posting this! I am more encouraged by it than I can express!

  • mj

    The meek may not necessarily inherit anything. I would not call myself a “victim” of church bullying but rather a person who stood up to the bullies and would not back down. It is common in the church environment to encounter individuals who, for whatever reason, elect themselves “leader”. Usually these individuals have no authority or direction in the secular world so, they decide to impose their “authority” on others in the confines of a church. Usually individuals with an inferiority complex or perhaps, a narcissistic personality disorder. Sometimes, people within churches are followers. By that, I mean they have no leadership abilities. So, they follow directions of other individuals within the church. And hence, they will not stand up for themselves.
    I have found that the best way to handle the bullies is to 1., ignore them and 2., expose them. In essence, put then in their place. But do so by not allowing them to bully you or anyone else and exposing their lies. And this does not mean becoming the bully. Just sticking up for oneself.
    After all, there is no class structure in the eyes of God. We are all equals. So, there is no ranking in the church. Yes, the pastor may run the operations and there may well be deacons or laity. These positions do not give rights to bully or to become some sort of drill instructors. They are positions designed to minister to the congregation. Servants, shall we say.

  • Selina

    Hi I feel everyone pain on being bullied at church that happened to me to I did everything I can to comfront the bullies the problem was the pastor I felt he Is a bully to I tried so hard to tell him is was so serious he told me forget about it let it go in a rude way everytime he sees me he always asked when are u coming back like nothing happened my old church lacks so much in alot of things from dealing with conflict not good in encourgement and very cliquey maybe in the future I will go back now that church is nothing but a gossipy and social club I am glad the lord got me out of there. word of advice if a pastor refuses to help and address the issues try to resolve it if not then leave don’t stand for it find a church that will welcome you will open arms speaking from experience I know people are not perfect but we should do what the lords wants us to do show love and respect to one another and don’t be a bully love ur brothers and sisters as Jesus loves us.

    • mjw

      In my Catholic upbringing, I never really experienced any “bullying”. Then, came my experience within the Protestant churches. No, I’m not going to say it only occurs within Protestantism. There are probably the same problems in Catholicism, although, I never experienced it. Anyway, my experience within certain protestant churches made me fully aware that I had to stand up for myself; regardless of the “stature” that some people may place on themselves. Reality is, everyone is of the same stature within a church. And the bullies or Narcissists hate to see that. Or, be told that. Clicks happen in anyplace where groups gather. I have never really been into them. And, would prefer to be myself. With my own attitudes and beliefs. When confronted by a “bully”, i did expose their behavior; in front of a group. Yes, I did become the “evil one” for a short period of time. However, I stood tall. Let the rumors fly, God will sort them out. It seems as though some people who may have deep rooted inferiority complexes, either in society or their family life, choose to attempt “power” within a church. My attitude is that I will stand up to those types when necessary and not back down. In the same regard, I don’t control others. I would and have in the past even stood up to a minister when they would bully a parishioner. They may be spiritual leaders but, they are all human.

  • Melanie Van Wyhe

    I am being bullied by one of the small group leaders in my church–he is even rude to me in front of the group, but since he has so much power no one stands up for me. When I first joined the small goups he put his hand on my leg under the table–during the Bible study…and then asked me to do some writing for him (as I’m a writer) –I declined because I was uncomfortable with him and I do not do business writing anyway. A couple of weeks later I went on a canoe ride with the group and another guy was giving me attention and asked me to go to a football game with him–the leader was in earshot and near us in the next canoe, and the only one that knew me since I was kinda new. The next day I went to church and the nice guy who had asked me out totally ignored me and would not even look at me,..the only explanation could be that the leader bad mouthed me–so much for a loving Christian leader–his leading is only about him and his power over the group—I still tried to go to small groups after that and he embarassed me in front of the group and was rude to me about a illness that I have…I went to another pastor who I thought I cold trust and since than she also has humilated me in group and stuck up for this guy. Found out she is a new pastor and probably wasn’t safe as she is very leagalist…I feel so alone and sad because I want to have fellowship so much but can’t get it at my own church because this leader has so much power that everyone believes him…I trying to decide if I should leave or give it onem ore chance…

    • mjw

      A “church bully” has no power. Unless they are allowed to have some sort of control. What I see in your writing is blatant harassment. No person has the right to touch you unless you allow it. There are predators everywhere – even in churches. They can be out for immoral purposes or to try and control others. If the church leadership is allowing such behavior, then it is the wrong place to be.

  • alma

    if you are still in that church you need to get out and leave that mess behind you once and for all. unfortunately, they didn’t appreciate and did care to understand the matter. plus if this matter has gotten you so down that you considered suicide i think there are more hidden concerns that this church was not capable of handling and you need a little more assistance for you to see the light, redirected and know that there is always hope regardless.

  • Michael Brown

    I have been left devastated by Bullying in (church name removed). I was asked to undertake a task by the Minister who said the leadership had requested this. But in carrying out the task over a year I experience bullying from an elder. Constant criticim, being undermined, lied about and misrepresented. After a year of this I had enough and brought it out into the open, thinking the Minister and Church Leadership would help resolve the situation. They discussed the matter behind closed doors as elders, including the one bullying me. I was excluded from discussions. Needless to say, the elder used this opportunity to discredit me so that my issues were not taken seriously. I have been shattered by this experience, and pushed very close to suicide. I have spent 4 years now trying to get the church leadership to engage in a process of reconciliation. I have asked time and again that we get an external facilitator and we work back through the events in a spirit of truth and honesty, so that experiences can be properly heard and acknowledged – which is vital for healing to begin. But the Minister and elders have slammed the door shut. To engage in this process would be to admit that they have problems of bullying in their church, and this is something I don’t think they can do yet. But my life has been devastated. I have spent 4 years of trying to recover from this trauma. My life has been ruined. This is a small town and I hate being here. The impact for myself, my family has been huge. But why should I have to sell my house and move my wife and children to some new home just because of a bully in the church and a leadership too weak to deal with issues properly and professionally. The leadership of (church name removed) are a disgrace.

  • alma

    i am so sorry of the lack of empathy and sensitivity in that body of so called of christ. due to the fact that the pastors are not standing up to you and taking the side of the daughter is not cordial and lack admission and communicating to work it out. unfortunately, to them the opinion of the daughter is more vital than yours in a professional and spiritual sense. seems that you tried to give it a chance and tried to work it out but no avail. maybe is time to move on and start visiting churches and eventually find one that will meet your needs and your family. i understand what you been through. i was a senior deaconess and i hung in their for almost ten years. if it was not one thing it was another. plus thrown out for things that were petty but to them acted like a major crime. i never in my life experience anything like that. to the conclusion the pastor man was shot to death. a long story but sin was in the cabin and every time i was thrown out something would come out in the light of something happening in the pastor’s household. plus moving more than 12 times for church is a wonder i ddidn’t become schizo-smile, sometimes God does things to protect us in the future. so i am sure you have a lot to offer and with a miracle challenge child i am sure you can be an inspiration to other couples that the enemy is using them to frustsrate them. plus i think i hung that long was because of my mom(she was the mother of the church)i was naive and with a good heart and well i call it taking abuse in jesus name and jesus really don’t want his children to be mistreated and miserable. he want us to be content, growing, and in turn help other florish. in times like this we are seeing who is really for chirist.

  • An Elder’s Bullied Disabled Child

    We have been attending a great church for 5 years now, in which I serve as an Elder, my wife a Deconess. Our 8 yr old adopted daughter is disabled with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, a form of brain damaged caused by her biological mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy, for which she has problems socializing with other children and sesory issues that cause her to have panic attacks and act out. The Pastor’s daughter has 3 younger children who run wild in the church, which has resulted in a few conflicts with my daughter. The pastor’s wife has labeled my daughter as a dangerous offender with children (especially her grandchildren) and has on several occasions yelled at her publicly infront of us. She has even gone so far as to say “How do I know that you daughter won’t attack my grandchild with a baseball bat.” Our Pastor has done nothing about it. We requested a meeting to resolve the conflict with all parties involved. Still nothing. My daughter said she feels like she can do no right at Church. We have been stressed right out there for over a year now policing my daughter and trying to keep the Pastors wild grandchildren from clashing with her. The sad thing is that both the Pastor and his Wife have been great to us in the past. The problem surfaced when their daughter said she was worried our daughter was a danger to hers. We have had enough. I have not worshiped in peace and joy in over a year. I no longer attending bible studies, work in children’s ministry, and we have not been to church in over a month now. Other Elders have done nothing to help. We can’t go on like this. The idea of our disabled child being bullied by the Pastor’s family is absurd to us. With a heavy heart we are going to have to move on. Never again will we become members of a Church, nor will we work in leadership again.

  • Healing

    I do not have church membership because of a series of events at a church. The pastor is highly anointed and righteous, but some of the persons in position there did not exemplify the Holy Spirit. I was a bench member that knew a few members. I was not in any auxillaries and did not get involved in any cliques. I became a target.

    I love the Lord and always will, but I could not subject myself to the cliques’ emotional abuse. Also, I was almost knocked down by one of the clique members during “praise and worship” because she was late to service and wanted to get to “her seat”. She laughed and didn’t say excuse me.

    Another person was angry because I helped an indigent nursing home resident get some of the things needed for her burial. I was on vacation and the angry person had three weeks to do something and did nothing for her. When I asked why the lady had not be buried, the person told me that the lady would not “spoil”. That did it for me. I was done. I never went back.

    I sometimes visit churches, but usually stream live church services. I pay my tithes to an evangelistic organization. I am growing and my anointing is stronger because of the pain. I know that God has a purpose for everything. Please pray with me for more direction from the Lord.

    Thanks!

  • alma

    i am so sorry to hear of this happening to you. first of all i suggest you don’t sign nothing of any kind. secondly, leave to a church that would appreciate and treat you like kind and caring folks that you seem. thirdly, this association are the one slandering which simply means lying on something that is not true. plus i am sure what you had mentioned in secret was true and it should have stayed there. however, those individuals were not trustworthy. yes, you have dedicated so many years, energy and i am sure money but i promise you in God’s words it will not go payless. the people you invested nine of ten are not the ones that God is going to use to bless you back abundantly. i can talk because from my story above i am more careful to be lead by emotions and lead by the word of God, time and like the word says watch and pray. plus always study those spirits that calls themselve right and in reality are in sheep clothing. i will say a prayer for you for direct your path and give you courage to get out of this situation. just to input i tried over9 years and out of those times i had those so called clergies throw me out 4 times and the fith time i said enough is enough and resigned. is tough and even now i am still going through. now i am not so quick to join a church and volunteer for their services. i know in due time i will settle permanently in a church. plus a church you dealing with humans and nothing is completely permanent. God bless.

    • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

      That’s a great reminder to be led by God’s word, Alma. Thank you.

  • jennajo

    Thankyou for this post. It breaks my heart to hear that people have been bullied so bad by trusted people in the church. However, I know it can happen because my husband and I are going through it at the moment. It has been the worst year of my life and the only thing I can do is trust that God will make things right. We had a disagreement with church leadership at the start of the year. We told NOONE about the disagreement not wanting to cause disunity in our church family. They however, have slandered us to our church family and have tried to stop us from being involved in the church. They wrote up a contract which we have been told to sign promising we won’t speak of the incident and that we were were wrong. We refuse to sign the contract.

    They continue to exclude us from church activities which has made my husband and I so sad, almost to the point of depression. They say if we just sign the contract, everything will be ok. I have been at the church over 7 years and my husband has been there just over 2. Never in my wildest dreams did I think my church leaders would act like this. I trusted my minister and I feel so hurt and betrayed by him.

    We were at the point of leaving not long ago, since every week we were being pulled aside about our refusal to sign the contract. We have answered honestly each time they accuse us of something, and have been silent in dealing with this. We have asked them not to ask us to sign the contract again as we will not change our mind. They said we were being disciplined and they would not stop just because we asked. I am still confused as to why they feel we need ongoing (if any) discipline. I am feeling like they just want us to leave. At the same time we had encouraging answer to prayer recently and felt refreshed and strengthened enough to continue. We would really appreciate prayer for strength as we go through this. I just hope noone ever has to go through what we have gone through!!

    • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

      Wow, jennajo, how disheartening that must feel. You know, something feels off about that type of church ‘discipline,’ because I can’t recall anything in New Testament writing about contracts of silence being part of a good conflict resolution process.

      Silence doesn’t solve conflict; silence lets it thrive. Instead, it’s honest, humble, prayerful, repentant and loving conversation that resolves conflict, heals wounds and restores relationships. At least, that’s the impression I get from Scripture.

      However, I’m glad to hear you feel encouraged by your recent answer to prayer. I hope and pray that things work out for you!

  • alma

    wow, the things that goes behind those holy doors. i can relate so much that is not funny. being in a church for almost 9 years and after being kicked out(4times) or intimidated and bullied out is unbelievable. i was in every department you could imagine from janitor to deaconess. seems like this church never was satisfied with nothing. they moved over 11 times from building to building. they claimed they had money and millionaires from the pulpits. so anyhow, i could not give money that much so i worked for them with no money given in return. however, the copastor from what i understand counseled me to make sure i was ready for deaconess and had the nerve to disclose what i mentioned to the members. then also threw me out like a dog and the pastor was as insensitive as i never experience(i find more warmth from the sinners!)my crime was slandering which was a lie because it was the truth and a lot of other people left-we were suppose to have over 200 and we mostly had only less than ten. this six foot and over three hundred pounder and different race intmiditated the heck out of me or tried. plus i guess she thought she was so educated. anyhow, when i needed to move from one apartment to the other, they helped for one hour and that big asst. pastor had the nerve to aske me for 100 dollars. plus when my mother had cancer they threw me out again and didnt speak to me. plus the pastor that got shot like a dog because to my surprise he had turn to alcohol, womanizing and what else and not forgiving his wife that also threaten him with a gun if he left her. they would visit my mom at the hospital and accept her in church but not me!! this pastor that got shot for the most part he would stand up for me but when i needed him for prayer i was surprise how he slammed and screamed at me for resigning my postiion for the second time. however, if any of them did anything wrong it would be cover up or right off. with me i never knew exactly when a needle would be stuck on me. then when the dead pastor died would you believe they didn’t invite me to his funeral and called my mother to inform her and like a dummy i humble myself and thought there would be another opportunity and there was for a time but i am sure the co pastor was pressuring the other pastor wife to get me out of the picture. i even went to her sister’s funeral and just so much memories is not funny. the last straw was last year when they had the nerve to preach and intmidate me indirectly of how we like the nice seats and that she was not like the male pastor that paid all. they wanted me to pay over 100-200 dollars a month. then to make it sweeter i introduced one of my good friends that was also a deaconess at that time and you believe the female pastor made her a minister!! plus not so much she wanted me to fix a toilet!! she had a grandson that i guess thought he was too cute to do anything like that(20 years). plus the fear would come over me that well i went along with a lot of the abuse. she would say now she would depend more on me and all kind of nice things in one hand but on the other hand i felt low emotionally. i came over 9 years to get help emotionally and what else and had to give it instead and get to work for it.

    • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

      alma, that sounds like a rough journey you’ve been on. You’re in my prayers!

  • HisVoice

    It’s been three years since God closed this gate in our lives as a family, and it has taken us three years to allow God the time to heal us. We have gained our restored voice back in the healing journey and have watched God teach us what are His healthy boundaries and how pleasant and safe they are. God never said to be quiet when you’re dealing with bullies. They were dis-empowered once and chose to hide their fear in their anger/bullying. For some of us they are our Goliath, lions, bears, or dogs as the Bible calls Pharisees.

    One of the problems with a bully is that they do not take ownership/responsibility for their conduct, emotions, or decisions they made that were not theirs to make. Bullies don’t take “No,” nor do they even hear you. What’s worse in my experience is that when you say “No!” to a bully, they accuse me of being the bully for not letting them bully me. It is not a pleasant journey with these people.

    The greatest gift for me and my family is that God taught me to ask Him what to ask. He showed me how to walk through this His way. He set me free and my family. My children were bullied by leaders and their peers.

    I am grateful to find your article/blog. I am now beginning to write and talk about this. We have become advocates for those who have been dis-empowered by bullying and feel they don’t have a voice.

    I want to share about what we went through at another time.
    Thank you.

    • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

      HisVoice, how very well said! It would be a delight to hear more about the things God has taught you along the way and how you’re advocating on this issue!

  • Mary

    I am so happy to have found this blog.I was very hurt by bullying in the church. I worked hard in the church. There was an elder and his wife who gave a lot of money to the church. When they did not like someone they would lie about them and get them removed from their positions.The false authority teachings int eh church contribute to the bullying. The pastor was just as bad as they were. He said he had to support them so the church could get their money. I was falsely accused. I tried to be cooperative and met with them many times trying to resolve issues. I spoke with the leaders over the churches in my area and they said I had done nothing wrong but the harassment continued. The local pastor and elders told people not to talk to me or have anything to do with me and they did what they were told. The pastors and elders went to see people or called people in to convince them that I was bad. I was so hurt. My children were hurt very much. Since I would not leave on my own they made me leave saying I was disrespectful and unrepentent. One of my daughters has a problem now with going to church because of them. I do not attend a regular church usually only small groups. I get scared of elders and pastors in churches and what they might do being nice then turning their back on you. This church eventually left the organization they were with and later fell a part and is no more. I was not the only one they hurt. They hurt the associate pastor, the youth leader, one of the womens group leaders all because this elder and his wife did not like them. They talked bad about me in our time and to other churches and I had done nothign wrong just love the Lord and wanted to serve him and love them too.It is a shame. It has been 12 years and it still hurts what they did and that no one helped me.Even after all these years the elder tells people that I lied.It is not true.

    • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

      Mary, I’m so sorry to hear about the deep hurt you experienced. There should’ve been much more grace and integrity from those leaders.

      And thank you for telling your story. A lot of people relate to what you’ve gone through and you’re not alone.

    • alma

      wow mary, don’t let keep thinking of those people anymore. God knows first is not worth your precious time and skills i am sure you have to contribute to this world. i understand i was a senior deaconess for 7 years and well is a long story. however, i was accused of things and disclosure in counseling i told them to members. thrown out of church for petty stuff and one of them was slandering and was a lie and witness included. always something was found wrong eventually. one side was praise and the other side well was damnation. seems like every time i was kicked out as a discipline deal and then my mother-the mother of the church had to try to talk the pastorial staff-a man and a woman and one controlling and minister that i feel is in wolf clothing. she threw me out like a dog when my mother had cancer but was nice to her and the first time scream and holler at me in front of every. * this church moved over 12 times and if we had 10 people was a lot in a period of ten years. eventually due to sins in the cabin the male pastor was shot to death. so some times things happen to protect us from the future. continue searching for a church-i am sure there are authentic churches out there.

  • Susan

    I have been bullied for over one year now. Rumors and lies follow me at church but I will not leave. I believe God put me there for a reason and despite everything, I love my church. I know who is behind the bullying and yes, it hurts. It is painful and leaves its own kind of scars, but I am strong. The bullying consists of sending out emails that are filthy…spoofing my address so that church members actually believe I did this. My friends are being targeted and I am being isolated. It is okay. I serve a God who sees and hears. I trust He will use this for good.

    • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

      Susan, it takes a whole lot of faith and courage to walk that journey. And it also takes a distinct call from God to do so. But as you say, if He has put you there for a reason, then you can be confident it will be for His purposes. As for the people at your church, I’m sure your example must already be having a positive impact on some of them, whether they know it or not.

  • stalkersarenotChristians

    What do you do when the bullying involves groups of people and stalking? I am a Worship songwriter. There is no place to hide. Powerful and famous people can break any laws they want here and no one will say it is wrong or try to stop it. My greatest sin was writing songs that caught their attention. You wouldn’t believe how empty and dishonest the biggest names in Christian music are. If you even privately complain about borrowed ideas, you are marked by the community. They hack phones and follow you everywhere. I am not exaggerating. If you think angering a local pastor brings grief, just try existing after a publisher tags you. Christians are breaking the law and it is entirely supported.

    • http://myp27.com./blog Gerry Peters

      Wow. I thought i had heard it all when it comes to abuse inside the walls of “christianity”. But seeing what i’ve seen and experienced what i’ve experienced i just have to believe that those that care about self more than God and righteousness are capable of almost anything to maintain status and power.

  • Larry

    Sadly, I’m also a victim of church bullying. Recently, after 14 years ministering in the church…I decided to leave *trying to leave nicely* and mentioned this to my spiritual mentor.

    Sadly, those bullies in the church are mostly leaders that clique and stays permanently in the city. The fact that the church is mostly consisted of students, they come and go, hence the leaders was really handpicked.

    To be fair and frank to you all, few years a go, when I was teen, I sinned against the church *hacking credit card*. I had been disciplined, and started from 0 again. I apologised, moved on and few years later I returned the money 4x than I stole. That what made the pastor never liked me in anyways and always looked down on me up till now. They really never looked up to me even I did everything by the book. My question was what is the measurement of sin used by these churches?

    Spiritually and mentally, I’m tired for being silent and not able to vocally confront them. Like one of the poster said above, if the leader is a clique leader, they will be protected and I’m the one who’ll go ashtray.

    Once I’d been backstabbed, gossiped, you named it all. I decided to stay even when I’m hurted the most. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

    Maybe… someday I will go back and start another journey without getting involved to deep in the roots. After all, I learnt, if you minister without politically involve to far you’ll be fine maybe.

    God and everyone here please do pray with me so I can be strong and finish my journey with Him strong. It is a blessing to me that I still have a fiancee that stand still by my side no matter how. I think that’s what is called unconditional love.

  • Jon

    These posts have made me feel so much better.
    I was deeply, deeply depressed by being bullied at church by the members who seem to always stick together, no matter what. I have been called names, taken into group meetings and told my ideas were not good enough to use, and I have never been invited to dinner at their homes. This has caused me to lose focus on God, His word, and the church. Withdrawing, sadness, hurt, losing weight, not eating, thinking of suicide are the symtoms I have had. I have talked to my minister, and he told me today that he has to agree with the ones bullying me, because they have power, and allocate large sums of money to the church. He said for me to let it go, because they are the ones who pays him. he said he didn’t want to lose his job, and confronting them could make his career end…Sad..so sad.

    • MIchelle

      Forgive me, but your pastor is a wimp. Shame on him. I hope you will find another church- there are some good ones out there still. These days we just have to look a little harder…

    • http://www.gerrypeters.com/study Gerry

      Sad to hear. The bullies are the people that pay the pastor and hold him hostage.

      It’s too easy to call him a wimp. Pastors can come to the point of feeling overwhelmed with the constant demands and expectations of the bullies to fall in line or else. Their threats leave them emotionally drained and no longer able to fight. Their career, future, colleagues, friends could very well be lost.

      That was my end when I continued to stand up against bully leaders. I was so badly beaten (emotionally) that i have never been able to go back to work and never will be. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

      However, RD, the need to find another Church is the best suggestion. Learn to forgive them (let them go).

      Maybe the best suggestion I can give you is to find a “Celebrate Recovery” group in your community. It’s a wonderful place to heal.

      Blessings

  • R

    There really is nothing you can do. If the bully is a church leader and he or she is in a clique, then he will be protected. There is nothing you can say or do that will not be turned around and used against you. I have struggled with this because we are supposed to be meek. We left the church we spent a lifetime in. We were not trouble makers, gossipy or other.Our family simply did not fit. It wasn’t enough for them that we left. We were slandared and attacked for leaving un Bibliclally even though we were told to leave in an un Biblical manner. We did not retaliate or bother to speak with the pastor because we knew we would not be heard. The best and only thing you can do is leave. Dysfunction and enableing added to self centredness breeds the atmosphere for abuse. Leadership hand picks like minded people and so living by example, trying to do the right thing etc does not work because of the sinfullness and unrepentance of those you are dealing with. It crushes my heart to know others are going to be hurt. Like one post mentioned previously, you can’t speak out. In every assembly you will find abuse because people are sinful by nature but when things get toxic it is best for the Lord to deal with it and even He often has to leave the offenders to suffer thier consequence. Stand frim in a loving manner. Be meek. State the offense. Forive it then walk away.

    • Joey

      wow, i dont know how you does it, i really admire the fact you could be meek in those situations, because if it were me , even if i walk away , i would still demand justice from God ,full stop. Unrepentant sinners dont deserve any mercy.

    • Janice

      It is comforting to read sadly that others have been bullied by a pastor like I am being bullied right now.
      My sister is on on life-support with cancer, and she is young, yet when i call the pastor to come see her he does not want to come saying he is too busy.
      He sometimes does not take my calls to update him about her, and does not answer emails either.
      This is the worst time of my life, and knowing my pastor is using this to make things worse for me so I feel more alone and abandoned when i need more support – is making me feel worse than ever especially since i have done so much volunteer work for my church and made him look good in the community with my volunteer work.

      I dont know what to do, he is a known bully but to do this to me now at this time and showing he is not there for us and not there for her, not even to come do a healing to help comfort her is really hurting me deep right now – which i can see is his point so I leave his church for sure.
      i dont know what to do and and very backstabbed and will never forget this pain at this horrible time.

  • Susan

    I attended a Christian Spiritualist church some while back. I thought it would be an ideal introduction to getting involved in a religious organisation, but without the ‘heaviness’ of traditional Christian faith.
    At first all seemed well. But soon one of the male healers in the church started to stalk me. He would never leave me alone, and followed me around and stared at me constantly, despite knowing I was a married woman. He had met my husband only very briefly but he just didn’t seem to care. He was obviously a predator, even though they told me he had always been a ‘ladies’ man.’
    I think some people noticed his behaviour, but, instead of supporting me, they seemed to want to use it to exlude me from their (obviously) close-knit group. Soon, I started to face hostility from a few others there as well.
    As a result of this, I left only after a few weeks of having started there; and this, my first experience of regular weekly worship.
    I don’t think I have the confidence to try going along to any church groups again.
    I worship privately at home and get online instead. I am sick of bullies in my life, and for me this was the last straw. I think I am better off not getting involved with any group of people.

  • Tyra

    I feel so much better after reading this blog. I’m in a position where I have no idea what do to or how to confront the bully that I am dealing with. My pastor’s mother is a n known bully and stirs up nothing but confusion and strife. The pastor will go so far as to say that his mother is a problem and he is aware of it but I’ve never seen him take any action to speak to her or remove her from the church. She gossips and slanders especially in front of children or to new members who have no idea how cruel she is.

    Initialy I had no idea how bad she was myself. A new member at the church I joined the choir as soon as I could. But when the pastors mother (a choir member, not director) heard me sing she would sit behind me, tapping my shoulder trying to instruct me. We have a choir directer and ofcourse it caused confusion. The choir would argue. The pastors mom would say the song is wrong or we are singing wrong etc. Rehersals that were supposed to be an hour went on for two and ahalf hours. This went on for months. She targeted me specifically after I sent a text (all the young peopel text our each other and our pastor) to please come and observe the madness. smh She resents me for this and it has been on ever since.

    Eventually she left choir all together after the deacons told her at a choir meeting that there is only one director and as long as there is a director there is to be no other instruction from anyone else. She boldly told the deacons that she wasn’t going to stop and left.

    Long story short, I have tried avoiding her but it’s a small church. She is therefore unavoidable. I teach at church as well. She suddenly is creates a children choir….When I began to feel burned out ( was at church 4 times a week for hours) I requested to have one day off….Pastors mom now teaches my children and has gone so far as to disrupt my classes. Once she decided to have prayer meeting before I got there. Which was fine. What wasn’t was she continued to stay, gossiping about cliques and people coming against her around the kids!!!!!! What is the christian way to deal with her?!

  • Joey

    you know, i can so relate to your article, though i just want to add one thing, and that bullying in church doesnt have to be so subtle, a couple of years i had a difficult exp with our vice pastor at church, who is a real c**t who never repents, who thinks just because she has strong personality, that she could decide what is right or wrong, who thinks she could treat people using one standard, but enforce a diffirent standard on others. to put long story short, her son did something wrong towards me, she want my forgiveness for her son straight away, i couldnt do it, but i did not hit back either, i need time to forgive, more importantly, i dont feel it is app for the party who had done wrong to have this attitude along the lines of, listen, i have apologised, if you dont hug my son straight away, i will make your hell! and she did make my life in hell! the funny thing, if anyone dare to cross her, even if they repent, not only she would not forgive, but she would have this menatality, ” you dare insult me, i dont care if you are sorry, i am going to beat you to a bloody pulp, and guess what, i thing my exaggerated retaliation is perfectlt justified” figurate speech or course, what made me even more angry was the fact to this day, people at church, who helped her, or merely stood by watching them do it, very subtly and well intentionally shift resp to my direction, along the lines of , ” well, it is not unusal to have personality difference” hello, for me personality diff is having heated a argument and yelled at each other and then forget all about it, She tried to isolate me in church, use physical bullying by blocking my path whereever i go, spread her version of story to force me out of the church, i am sorry, but it is very diffucult for me to accept that kind of behaviours as persnality conflict.
    or they would me, well no one is perfect, so in another word, she didnt do anything wrong, she just being a humanbeing, i am the asshole here for being angry, anyway, i dont have time to share rest of the ghastly details with you, but at this stage, the only thing i want God to do is to fullfill His promise, that vengence belong to Him, and He will deal with it eventually.

  • Phemelo Motona

    It’s so amazing that sometimes when church bullying takes place you don’t recognise until it’s too late. I too was a praise and worship minister who experienced bullying from a very “calm and kind” pastor who took advantage of my husband’s and my zeal to serve God and the fact that we are young. As Im writing this comment now, the Pastor is still stalking us even after over nine months of having left his church. He manipulated us into overworking ourselves for the church, draining away our marriage, neglecting our few month old baby in the name of “serving God”. I remember waking up one Sunday morning and realising that I’m burned out and in desperate need of rest as I worked from 6am to 7pm 5 days a week and weekends were fully occupied with church activities. So I called his wife to explain that I was tired and wouldn’t be able to come to church that day and all I got from her was that I was irresponsible for “giving them such a short notice”. Later we decided to leave the church and prayerfully consider our next direction as we we also noticing the fact that we were not even growing spiritually which badly affected our marriage. Both the Pastor and his wife together with the rest of the leadership hesitantly accepted our decision at the leadership meeting we had to announce our leaving, but then the Pastor continued to pursue my husband on the side. He first visited him at work ( which never happened before) to ask him “did God really say you must leave?” And this is after him saying to us that we were imagining things in a “jokingly manner” when we told him that God spoke to us at the leadership meeting. He kept calling him and meeting him on the side trying to convince my husband to stay and manipulatively telling him that I was manipulating him into leaving and convincing him that he(my husband) didn’t want to leave. He even threatened my husband that something bad would happen to us for leaving the church and that my husband would be responsible for it because he is not supposed to leave. My husband was scared by this and ultimately gave in. By this time we had already left the church although the Pastor was still adamantly on my husband’s case slandering the Pastor of a potential church we were looking at. My husband then started to resent me for wanting to stand up to the Pastors bullying. At one point he never spoke to me for 3 days and on the fourth day we woke up and found our baby having vomitted through his nose and dead. A few months after our baby’s passing, we met with the Pastor and I asked him to give us some space to make our own decisions for our own lives. He never respected that either. He continued to call my husband for petty chats and when he called me I told him to back off. He backed off of me and continued to pursue my husband yet discussing me at times.It’s been over 9 months since we left his church but he just doesn’t want to leave us alone. He would even still invite us for services and the sad thing is that my husband is too nice to firmly tell him to back off and because of this the Pastor is not stopping. None the less I will continue to pray and God’s intervention will set things straight.

  • AGift

    There are two sides to every story, so I would have loved to hear the other side, because I know a pastor who was a bully who was removed and now he claims to be hurt by the church. I don’t worship anyone man so I am not intimidated by man so easily and have put “people of the cloth” in their places and have gone toe to toe

  • InConflict

    First, THANK YOU for posting this blog. It is a comfort knowing that I’m not alone.

    It took me a while to recognize that a church leader was using intimidation and public humiliation to get his way — a different worship presentation program. Unfortunately, as the one in opposition, I became the victim.

    My reaction (somewhat selfish) was to remove myself from the situation by withdrawing from the worship team. Unfortunately, no one has stepped forward and volunteered to take on the preparation of the worship presentation. Thus, my local church is suffering because this ministry isn’t being done.

    I have yet to confront the bully but believe that like generalironeagle, it will get twisted around to where the blame is placed on me.

    I’ve yet to resolve the internal conflict of wanting to serve God thru preparing the worship presentation and not wanting to put myself back into the position of victim.

  • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

    Hi Kathie,

    Thank you for sharing! And I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been going through. I know it isn’t easy.

    I was just talking about this kind of situation with someone today: In my background, which I’d consider a very middle-of-the-road evangelical church, there are certain unwritten rules of conduct, things you’re absolutely never supposed to do, regardless of what the Bible may say on the matter. One of them is never to challenge fellow believers or raise concerns about ‘acceptable sin’ in their lives, even if they’re hurting someone else because of this sin. If we do transgress this unwritten rule, the person who committed the real sin suddenly becomes a victim, and we have become transgressors, targeted for admonishment, correction, shaming, and other more or less subtle types of bullying.

    I’m in the same boat as you, Kathie, because I’ve been searching for a church family for a years now, and I too have been reluctant because I don’t yet know how to tell whether a church (or at least its leaders) truly teach and reinforce all of Scripture, or whether they seem to teach Scripture but promote their own unspoken, unwritten man-made rules instead. I sure don’t want to waste my time and resources on a church that protects the guilty and bullies the innocent. But how to find a healthy church, well I haven’t quite figured it out yet. Tips and suggestions (from anyone) would be welcome. :)

  • http://kathieyouknowwhoonfacebook Kathie

    I was bullied by the pastor, his wife and one of the elders and several others at the church that I attended for 13 years. I was an active attender, volunteering regularly. I spoke up about one staff member violating another staff member and paid a dear price. It’s been over two years since I’ve been involved in a church. I miss being a part of the body of Christ corporately very much, but I just dont trust leadership anymore. This pastor was someone I looked up to, and trusted. If someone else had told me a story similar to what happened to me, I would not have believed it. But, here I am…. thrown out, discarded, unheard and very hurt by my own church and pastor. I am so sorry that there are wounds at the hands of our brothers and sisters. I just dont understand it. What happened to “behold, how they love one another”. I pray that it all gets straightened out somehow someday. I pray that God heals my heart toward them and the church. I dont want to feel the way I feel.
    Thank you for giving me a small place to share.

  • all for them

    Church bullying is just as bad as being bullied as a child. At first I didn’t know or understand why this “low self-esteem, little kid who couldn’t even look directly at this person, nerve clinching, scared that I might say something dumb, nothing I ever say is right, feeling came from whenever I would talk to this person. I tried to get along for the sake of peace in the body of Christ. Then little and more I hated to even look at this person. Then one day I jokingly asked my teenager had he been bullyied before and he told me he had and described what happened and it hit me- I’m being bullied! I called my pastor and asked if there was a such thing and she confirmed that it does happen and I was too embarassed to say that I had been experiencing this. Once I recognized this I began to pray on how to be a overcomer. I’m still getting through it.

  • Randal Cox

    After dealing with a bully at my church, I had decided to quit attending until SOMETHING is done about this bully – who, from day one always picked on my “weight problem”, bullied others in my congregation on how things must be done – no matter what the church’s stand is and no matter how major or minor.

    About six months ago, my pastor had assigned me the job of looking after the cleaning duties of the church building. It is a volunteer position, where payment will be in the form of blessings of services. I had taken over the Bully’s job in which he was relieved (It was a paid position until he was relieved). He has since belittled me in front of my fellow church members repeatedly, until one time at the end of the Men’s group meeting I’ve had enough!

    I had spoken to the pastor several times about it, and his attitude is “Oh it’s just ‘Mark’ (Not real name), just ignore him, he’s just that way.”

    For several weeks I avoided him in the church halls, in public, etc. Yesterday we had another incident at a working bee (several members of my church united to spring clean the church and grounds) and he started mouthing off and continued to antagonize me. Instead of being silent, I said a few unChristian things to him, and I informed my wife that I will not be returning to church until something is done.

    This brings back terrible memories of being bullied in formal school, and frankly I am not handling it well.

  • Gloria

    I am a Sunday School teacher, due to our church being so small, we have combined classes of kids as young as 12yrs through 18yrs old. I have Seen first hand what bullies do, this are the older boys ages 16-17 who are bullying the younger ones. Our pastor being young is a non confrontation type of person, and wishing not to loose members ignores what this boys do. They hit the younger ones, shove and push them around, and no one confronts them. Their parents justify their actions by saying they are just boys being rough, I have about 3 younger boys who will not attend my sunday school class because they are fearful of these boys. I have had it I will have a meeting with the pastor and deal directly with these boys, and if it becomes an issue in which they continue to justify them I will just leave and find me a new church. Even my preteen son doesnt want to be in my class either. He is afraid of them. Please pray for me for holy boldness, the parents of these boys have them on all kinds of mental medecine, and feel that that is just how they are, well if they had discipline alot of this would not be going on now.

  • Jeff

    I am a pastor trying to summon the courage today to confront a “church bully”. I have been pastoring at my present church almost 3 years and have had numerous experiences with his bullying. So far I have let each one slide, thinking that it is better to love unconditionally than to confront. Today, I am convinced that if I let his latest episode go, I will be on the verge of leaving a GREAT church. It is amazing to me how many people this man has bullied and hurt, yet no one has stood up to him! Just shows the mentality we all have when it comes to bullies – we’re afraid. But why? The fear I am feeling today is ripping me up inside, and he is probably out playing golf not even thinking about what he said. Please pray I will find the courage to confront this man in a bold and Godly way today. Thanks for letting me vent, also.

    • alma

      time for a meeting pastor with that person and if not get the board together and tell them what is happening and go from their. don’t leave a great church because of that wolf in sheep clothing that the enemy is using to get you out so you won’t continue making a difference.

  • generalironeagle

    Actually I am looking to attend a cyber church while I heal.

  • generalironeagle

    I just recently left my church in the dark of the night due to bullying.
    What’s sad is when the pastor is the bully and feels threatened by a worship team member.
    I just refused to take it anymore.
    I tried to confront the problem but when you try to confront a bully, they make you look like the problem.
    I just went by, got my gear and said nothing.
    I am just going to disappear into cyberspace and like my wounds in private.

    • http://www.myp27.com Gerry Peters

      Sad to hear your story. It took me 4 years to feel safe again in church, go figure. It may take time for you but don’t give up on God. The church doesn’t always reflect him very well.

      • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

        So true, Gerry!

    • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

      I know, things can really get messy in the church. As a pastor’s kid I saw so much immaturity and improper handling of disagreement within the leadership, some of which hurt my family directly. I’m so sorry to hear about your hurtful experience.

      You mentioned disappearing into cyberspace, are you keeping a blog or online journal as a way to heal?

      • http://www.myp27.com Gerry Peters

        I keep a website and a blog.
        Blog: http://myp27.com (The Journey
        Website: http://faithjourney.ca (Faith Journey) On this site I’m currently working through the book of Romans.

        If any is of encouragement then Praise the Lord.

    • someone…

      “I tried to confront the problem but when you try to confront a bully, they make you look like the problem.”

      This is what I am dealing with right now. I tried to stand up for myself and make peace at the same time, but my peacemaking efforts were taken as disrespectful and trying to stir up strife.
      It is REALLY hard because what do you say?
      I have all the evidence in the world, but it can still be turned around at me.
      I know the Lord is my defender and He fights for me. He already has in one situation with the bully which was awesome.

      But really it comes down to this:
      Proverbs 26:4-5

      New King James Version (NKJV)

      4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
      Lest you also be like him.
      5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
      Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

      I’m pressing onward and shutting the door. Even if it does make ME look like I’m not “willing to make peace” :-/

      • http://mariefriesen.com Cameron E. Brooks

        You’re right, sometimes nothing we say or do will be taken the way we intend. Sadly, sometimes people automatically shut down any idea but their own.

        I was recently struck by a story I heard about my former church. A couple members were talking about their spiritual discoveries, things they’ve learned through independent Bible study, things that have really lifted their spirits. These were also new discoveries, Biblical truths that weren’t taught or encouraged by the church. One person asked the other, “Can’t we just tell other members what we’re learning?” And the other replied, “They’re not ready yet.”

        It encouraged me to hear that spiritual growth was indeed taking place in the church, albeit on a small scale, and that these members cared enough to wait until the rest of the church would be more open and receptive to it before sharing their discoveries.

        So it could be that the example you’ve shown at your church, of genuinely trying to solve the problem, has had a positive influence on another member. You never know.

        As for your own spiritual journey, if you’ve done all you can to reconcile the situation, then you can have peace about it and you can move on, as you say. Trying to reason with people up to a point is responsible. But (like Proverbs says) taking it too far can only create more damage. So it’s wise to walk away when necessary. Hard, but wise.

  • http://myp27.com Gerry Peters

    Glad I stumbled upon your article. Yes, bullying takes place in the Church. I know because I’m a victim. In my case a couple Church Board members ended a 30 year ministry as Pastor. I was loved by the congregation but all it took was a couple bullies and nobody to stand up to them. I thought the right way to respond to them was without stirring additional conflict.

    Now I wish I had.

    I’ve written some articles about Church Bullies on my Blog. You can find the category at http://myp27.com/blog/?cat=18

    • http://none john

      what people say ,what they do ,what they feel, what they think is theire responsibility my resposibility is how do i handle this situation if its important to me i go to see them and say you haave said this this and this then i agree what i can agree on and agree to disagree on what we cant agree on or if its not important to me i let it go straight over my head but remember the bullie will stand before god on that day there will be know one with him and he will have to answer to the lord how he lived his life, god bless ,john

    • paula

      It helps me, after being abused in the church, being stripped of all my self-esteem and suffering at the hands and false words of those there, to remember that God is everywhere and to remember a pastor’s words at a service yesterday who said:
      ‘Do not put your faith in the church – but put your trust & faith in God only.’
      this gave me some comfort, and not give thought to those in the church who stand firm on giving me a hard time. all i can say is be kind to yourself and stay loving and strong on the inside even if you’re crumbling on the outside and have nowhere and no-one to turn to. The most courageous thing to face is to go somewhere you are not welcomed – like Jesus often did.

      • http://none john

        if you want to know where all this comes from you need to know about jezebel spirit just go on youtube just put jezebel spirit into the search engine and you will be educated god bless john

      • Paula

        My original comment, to remain courageous and not give up on God despite the abuse, was meant for generalironeagle.

        I am a bit confused by your suggestion about a bad female ‘Jezebel’ spirit causing bullying in the church in response to my comment?
        Just because my pastor who bullies and speaks badly about others in the church is a woman, I don’t think that makes her posessed by a Jezebel spirit. I think bullying in the church is not gender-based, and not caused by a negative female spirit. But thank you for the comment.

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