8 Clues You Are in a Controlling Church

"Ministry of Control" by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Ministry of Control” by nakedpastor David Hayward

8 Clues You are in a Controlling Church

  1. Power is not shared.
  2. Your needs and desires are denied.
  3. If you don’t comply you will be ignored or worse.
  4. Your discontent with the church is your fault.
  5. Little encouragement but lots of put downs (called constructive criticism).
  6. Doubts and questions are interpreted as betrayal.
  7. Shame is used to keep you in line.
  8. Your life feels micromanaged by the church.

Is this your experience? I know I’ve experienced it. I also know that as a pastor I was guilty of inflicting some of these. I’ve learned a lot!

This is something we talk a lot about at The Lasting Supper! Help yourself!

My art is 35% OFF with code ‘nakedpastordeal’. SHOP NOW!


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15 Responses

  1. Pat Pope says:

    And sometimes doubts and questions are seen as a deficiency in your theology or walk with the Lord that must be fixed or corrected.

  2. Jonn McDaniel says:

    Holy crappola… this just described my experience in way more churches than it should. Every church isn’t toxic at every moment but all churches seem to be at some point. A church on a healthy faith journey is willing to admit when it has chosen to become too far off a healthy path and will always be willing to do the hard work necessary to become and remain a healthy place.

  3. True Pat. And I agree totally John.

  4. John says:

    In these situations, it is just best to leave.

  5. irreverance says:

    I don’t have any real experience in an evangelical church community. I did, however, do a short internship in one. One day in the hallway a member came up to me with her husband and we talked a bit. Then she said, “Having Words from the Lord is my spiritual gifting, and I have a Word from the Lord for you.” At that point, she offered a mild criticism. I thanked her for sharing and we parted ways.

    Reflecting on that, I thought it was an interesting approach. After all, who could argue with “a Word from the Lord”? And I couldn’t do so without devaluing what she saw as her spiritual gift (and she didn’t seem to think she had any others), which in turn devalues her. Moreover, what kind of place is it that makes people feel like they have to have a way to have an incontestable voice in order to have a voice? All in all, I thought it a very odd exchange…and insightful with regards to the quiet workings of the community.

  6. Pat Pope says:

    Sometimes, irreverance, I think people do that thinking their criticism will not be heard as criticism but more as love. Whatever…

  7. Andy says:

    I misread your coupon code naked.past.ordeal

    It made me chuckle!

  8. You’re not the first to notice that Andy. It all means the same. 😉

  9. K.W. Leslie says:

    I like to teach, “Doubt is our friend. Jesus only rebuked people who doubted God. But doubting other people: Often that’s the Holy Spirit prodding you to doubt them lest they lead you astray.”

    It’s a great way to catch control-freak preachers. Makes ’em blanch. They’ve been riding so long on God’s don’t-doubt-me coattails, when the proper passage about them begins, “You’ll know them by their fruit.”

  10. Caryn LeMur says:

    Power is addicting; and it is isolating. If an officer can withstand the addiction and the isolation, he or she will do well in the military system. Hierarchy, rank, status, authority, reverence…. all those things are given to the good officer. Ultimately, if push comes to shove, then the officer gives an order, and the subordinate must comply so long as the order is within the bounds of the law and the not a war crime.

    Oh… wait… we were talking about the church institution, weren’t we? You know, that living, bubbling thingy that almost defies direction and yet moves forward more like a body without a head… or a jellyfish without a seeming brain. The head is Christ; the brain is the Holy Spirit. The church is not chaos, but like the forest flora and fauna… almost beyond controlling, yet balancing and living.

    Then again, so long as the church continues to adopt a military attitude and paradigm, perhaps…. hmmmm… can I wear a nice robe with colors and ribbons ? I like that… a uniform…. especially with heels… and still be saluted? or at least, treated as a superior that ‘knows the big picture’? Can I be called ‘Captain’….err, I mean ‘Pastor’? I do so miss setting the unit priorities… and having people that obeyed….

    Gosh, forget that living bubbly thingy that is alive -give me the good old mil’ system any day…. where do I sign up? You say the church is looking for a few good recruits? Yes! Be there shortly…….

  11. mike says:

    I suppose that as long as we keep entertaining the notion that God dwells in these temples(church’s) made with hands then we deserve everything we get from believing this absurdity.

  12. Womenarefree says:

    Caryn, I know of three pastors within 10 miles of my house who are military men. Each would swear he has a calling. Your example makes a lot of since when you look at it from the dysfunctional angle. But on the face of it I can’t image someone more unsuited to the ministry than a military mentality.

  13. Womenarefree says:

    edit: sense, not since

  14. C.N. Sensse says:

    Then your son gets arrested. Or your daughter gets pregnant. And you get a call from your pastor, telling you something like, “I’m praying for you, and we are behind you, but you are going to have to take a back seat for a while. We have to keep up appearances, brother. We can’t cause any of these new people to stumble. We are just barely meeting our budget.”
    So you find a way to tell this to your wife, or maybe you get highly upset with her for not holding down the fort while you were busy doing God’s work. And her response is something like, “Screw those hypocrites! I’m never setting foot in that place again.”
    So now where are you? God’s mad, your preacher has demoted you, your wife is hurt to very core of her being and may never get over it, one or more of your children is in big trouble…how did it get this way? All you wanted to do was go to church. Feel good about your life. Be a better person. Make a difference. And you worked your butt off for those people. Is God really that tough?
    So you had a beer the other night at your neighbors’ cookout—what’s one beer? But that must have been it. God sees everything. And when you dropped the ball, He had to expose it. He is no respecter of people, and you have to take your lumps just like everybody else.
    Guess what? The beer is not the issue here. The church is. You see, what really happened is this: You took a second job volunteering for a nonprofit “corporation” disguised as a church. As a matter of fact, you paid them for the privilege to work there. In other words, you got sucked into religion. And organized religion is nothing but a moneymaking scheme. On top of that, you surrounded yourself with a bunch of mindless, clueless members of the first church of the devil. And that happened because you were never told to listen to God first and humans second—or not at all. From “The Counterfeit Kingdom,” by C.N. Sensse